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Free school meals

(425 Posts)
mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 11:43:57

I was just thinking. With so many Government and Council cutbacks, isn't it about time they stopped providing free school meals that cost untold millions of pounds to provide?

I mean we're already given child benefit to help with the cost of our children. Also, as long as you're feeding your child properly at home, what's wrong with providing a fairly inexpensive packed lunch if you can't afford to buy them a hot one? (not that they are particularly 'hot' nowdays)

Plus, if parents cant afford to feed their children when they go to school...how do they manage at weekends and during the 13wks holidays they get per year?

Then there are the parents who earn just above the threshold and cannot afford school meals...their kids would have a packed lunch so why not everyone?

auntyfash Tue 11-Jan-11 11:46:26

Ooooh yes! Let's take even more things away from the children. Way to go!

iloveyankees Tue 11-Jan-11 11:47:59

I actually agree with the op....

mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 11:48:14

I'm sensing a little sarcasm there aunty grin

LaurieFairyonthetreeEatsCake Tue 11-Jan-11 11:49:05

I think the total opposite to you - because there is a chance that some children will only get one decent meal a day I want it to be at school. I want hot school dinners (catering for allergies/vegetarians) to be free and paid for by increased taxes.

I wish we had the system described by some of the parents who have children in the french system - 3 course meals, plenty of time to eat it.

BillBrysonsRucksack Tue 11-Jan-11 11:49:39

mutznutz I actually agree with you <ducks and prepares to be flamed to a crisp>.

There is also a scheme whereby children who qualify for free school meals can have extra money to learn an instrument or something (don't know details) which I think is a bit hmm as most people I know who don't qualify for free school meals wouldn't necessarily be able to afford that anyway.

borderslass Tue 11-Jan-11 11:52:33

Plus, if parents cant afford to feed their children when they go to school...how do they manage at weekends and during the 13wks holidays they get per year?

I know of a woman who thinks her benefit should go up to cover this when she mentioned it I was shock.

mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 11:52:57

Laurie I'm sorry but I think it's down to parents to provide the luxury of a hot lunch if that's what they want their kids to have. Otherwise there's nothing wrong with a packed lunch and a hot dinner when they get home.

Bill I've heard about the instrument thing too.

blondieno1 Tue 11-Jan-11 11:53:44

I personally think it is a teeny bit unfair.

My DD isn't entitled to free school meals and we cannot afford the £10 per week for her to have them.

So in the cold weather we have had my DD along with about 5 other children in the whole school had cold sandwiches whilst the rest were tucking into their warm meals.

TBH I think that is very unreasonable.

FWIW The school is in a 'deprived area' and most of the parents are on benefits.

roadkillbunny Tue 11-Jan-11 11:53:56

For some children the meal they have at school will be the only hot, balanced meal they will get. It can be hard to imagine this type of poverty and how uneducated some people are when it comes to food, what it common sense to most is something that has to be learned for others.
All sorts of things can be going on in a family that means the free school meal is essential for the child, removing free school meals would be a disaster and there very well could be a raise in childhood malnourishment.

There always has to be a line when it comes to giving assistance and yes some who come above that line will struggle but it is mainly the children who qualify that are in the most need but it can never be black and white.

nagynolonger Tue 11-Jan-11 11:54:37

In this area school age DC get free meals if they enroll on council run play schemes in the school hols.......well they did!

Our income has been just above the threshold for free school meals, prescriptions etc in the past. It did p**s me off somewhat but I never begrudged the children who did get it.

LaurieFairyonthetreeEatsCake Tue 11-Jan-11 11:54:55

DD gets her music lessons funded as she is in care. It's a seperate budget. Think it would be £21.50 for the half hour lesson per week otherwise. They will also be paying for a new instrument soon as she has outgrown this one.

I think the rational is to do with promoting concentration and other things as children in care have generally had such chaotic lives.

it has really helped dd. Before she learned the instrument she couldn't be on her own for any period of time (attachment problems). Now, a year in, she is composing short tunes for up to an hour on her own.

It has affected her school work for the better too. Better concentration, staying power, perseverance etc

mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 11:56:08

That's the thing blond if a packed lunch is ok for those who are not entitled to free meals...it should be ok for those who are.

gingernutlover Tue 11-Jan-11 11:56:25

I think Free school meals are important as others have said, some children only get that one decent meal to eat in a day sad

I do think that free school milk for under 5's and free school fruit for infants should go though. That isnt means tested at all and must cost a fortune to provide and administer.

BaroqueAroundTheClock Tue 11-Jan-11 11:56:44

"Plus, if parents cant afford to feed their children when they go to school...how do they manage at weekends and during the 13wks holidays they get per year?"

Some don't, others struggle, others really feel the pinch and they have exactly the same thing day in day out for lunch.

I didn't claim them to start with when I went on benefits - didn't see why I needed to, after all - as you say I was feding them at weekends and holidays. But eventually had to admit defeat and claim them.

LaurieFairyonthetreeEatsCake Tue 11-Jan-11 11:57:07

Of course there's nothing wrong with a packed lunch and a hot dinner when children get home.

The point is that children in poverty often don't get that. At least if it is provided at school then they will.

NorwegianMoon Tue 11-Jan-11 11:57:59

free school meals are there to ensure that poor children definatly get at least one meal a day-a decent meal. many of those poor children go hungry at home as the parents cant or wont feed them.

how do you know how often then get fed wekends or holidays?
my mum works in a school where the kids are poor and some of them dont get food at home they are deliriously happy to the point they have teachers in tears over having xmas dinner at school.

YABU

BaroqueAroundTheClock Tue 11-Jan-11 11:58:12

oh - and my DS's both get packed lunches as free school meals - neither of their schools provide hot meals for any of the children.

borderslass Tue 11-Jan-11 11:58:26

Even when DH was on incapacity benefit I never claimed for free school meals for our DC they had a sandwich,basics yoghurt piece of fruit and a diluting drink.

mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 11:58:52

I've often heard it said that "It might be the only proper meal the child gets" but to be honest the Government are already paying parents to feed their children with child benefits and other benefits.

Why should they have to pay again at school?

Memoo Tue 11-Jan-11 11:59:18

I know from experience that there are a number of parents who don't feed their children adequately when they are at home and so for these children it is the only decent meal they get.

You would take this away from them?

NorwegianMoon Tue 11-Jan-11 12:02:06

memoo, because they cant be sure what you spend your cb on. if the child gets a free meal and eats it at school you know they have received that meal and today they have eaten well.

what do you spend your cb on? or does it go into one big pot (like mine)

some would argue mums who put the cb into a savings account shouldnt get it either?

auntyfash Tue 11-Jan-11 12:02:06

Those who mentioned packed lunches being ok for kids, would you want even very low income families to pay for these? Just that packed lunches cost just as much as school lunches imo. I have one child on packed lunches and one has school dinners (their own choices) but I don't see much of a difference in cost.

mutznutz Tue 11-Jan-11 12:02:40

Memoo I would rather the relevant authorities looked into why the children were not being fed to be honest.

I mean in an ideal world...let the government feed them all, but it's not an ideal world is it?

Frankly if anyone was to be given a free lunch I would rather it went to the elderly or housebound....but as I say, it's not an ideal world.

wisecamel Tue 11-Jan-11 12:02:42

Ideally, I think all school kids should get a free, hot school meal. Eaten round tables with an adult and proper cutlery. Then there'd be no stigma and if you desperately wanted/needed your kids to have sandwiches, they could bring them.

I'd happily pay more tax to fund this. In my work I see so many kids who only ever eat like this if they go round a friends house, and then they're not invited back because of their lousy table manners and it's not their fault.

Don't begrudge the poor kids the free meals, OP, you never know when your kids or their friends might really need them.

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