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Another school thread - compulsory paid for school dinners

(82 Posts)
PumpkinBones Fri 17-Jun-11 16:58:16

DS's school sent a letter home recently asking what people thought of them providing a cold meal as a school dinner, as well as a hot. Seemed like a reasonable question, and lots of people said they were in favour of it.

It transpires that what we were being asked was whether we would be happy for the school to provide ALL lunches, and the cold option would replace a packed lunch from home. They want to do this because they say there are issues with the hygiene and content of the packed lunches they see children bringing in.

In order to sort out the confusion, they have sent home a voting form. If the majority vote for it, they will make it compulsory to have a hot or cold school dinner - at £10 and £7.50 per week respectively - and you will not be allowed to bring a packed lunch. It is a primary school, so children are there until 11 - meaning some parents who have 3 children at the school will be paying £90 per month.

One mum of 3 in particular went to the Deputy Head and was told if it got voted in her only option would be to come and take her children out at lunchtime, give them their lunch, and bring them back again.

I am unhappy about this for many reasons - the cost (I will have 2 children there soon) the lack of choice in actual food given, the fact that DS doesn't want it - he is a good eater and will try most things, but he like most people has preferences! and the fact that it is going to be made complusory - plus the tone of the letter itself, which basically implied parents were incapable of feeding their children (which some might be - but I don't think this is the way to deal with it!) But is it a reasonable thing for the school to suggest? And I know I am probably BU for getting annoyed when it hasn't happened - but the thought of the additional cost is stressing me out.

The schools argument also is that you would spend £7.50 on lunchbox items anyway which is difficult to argue, as by itself it doesn't seem like much necessarily - but it doesn't take into account the economy of scale, especially for more than 1 child, and the fact that others in the house benefit from the food I buy (eg we all eat the punnet of grapes)

Shoesytwoesy Fri 17-Jun-11 17:00:14

wow, I think I would be livid at the idea, can you not contact the LEA and see what they say about it?

pudding25 Fri 17-Jun-11 17:00:31

I would call the LEA. I very much doubt that a state school is allowed to do this (and I say this as a teacher in a state school).

PumpkinBones Fri 17-Jun-11 17:02:31

It has recently become a Community Acadamy - does this make a difference? I was going to wait until the vote announcement on Monday to contact the LEA or take it further, I know it might die a death then, but it has caused a lot of stress to parents and I am feeling pissed off about it!

create Fri 17-Jun-11 17:05:56

This would worry me a lot, espcailly as our school seems to have a very vague idea of what healthy eating is, e.g.

Low fat/low sugar does not automatically = healthly
A cereal bar is not healthier than homemade cake
An active, normal weight 6yo does not need a low fat diet...

fuzzpigFriday Fri 17-Jun-11 17:06:48

WTF is wrong with them adding the option of cold lunches for that price, but keeping them optional? Good for parents who can't afford the hot meals but maybe are too busy to provide decent packed lunches? If you are pushed for time it is a lot easier to bow down to pester power and give the DCs what they want - a bad lunchbox doesn't always show the parent doesn't know or care about healthy eating.


ddubsgirl Fri 17-Jun-11 17:07:53

wow £7.50 on pack lunch items,what they putting in there?i have 4 at school and they all have ack lunches,is far cheaper than paying for school meals and at least i know what they are eating!

fuzzpigFriday Fri 17-Jun-11 17:08:14

Very true create, I can't remember the examples that have riled me but there have certainly been some at my DSDs' school that made me think where the Jeff are they getting their nutrition info!

FingandJeffing Fri 17-Jun-11 17:10:52

Wow that is rubbish, despite Jamie O's best efforts I'm always underwhelmed when I see school dinners.

There is always a pudding, think cake and custard and I don't want my child having that sort of thing every day. They offer a choice and I bet my child would choose the worst choice without what I consider a good source of protein. They have weird combinations to satisfy the nutritional requirements eg. Spag bol with cooked carrots (I think this is strange). They use the cheapest ingredients IMO.

So no YANBU, I would be really annoyed if the school did this, regardless of the cost (though that is also an issue).

ddubsgirl Fri 17-Jun-11 17:13:45

my dh use to work in a school kitchen just before the jamie oliver thing,he was horrifed by the stuff the kids were fed and the small portions given,he quit in the end after the woman who worked in the office of the company that runs the kitchens wanted him to use the gravey browning powder in the sponge pudding!

cansu Fri 17-Jun-11 17:13:48

Probably they can do this as an academy, but you can pressure them to make the dinners an option rather than compulsory. I would start with a letter to the head and the governors explaining that the cost is unreasonable. If this doesn't get you anywhere, maybe a petition and a phone call to local media and local MP might help!

create Fri 17-Jun-11 17:18:41

Exactly Fing. A sample week's menu for my DSs:

Meatballs & Pasta with brocooli and carrots, ice cream and fruit pots
Homemade beefburger in a bun with peas and sweetcorn, Fruit salad and yogurt
Roast chicken, roast spuds, mashed root vag & cabbage, banana cake
Homemade red onion and tomato pizza ith carrots and broccoli
Fish fingers with mashed potato, cauliflowerand baked beas, lemon sponge and custard

Now, one the face of that, apart from some odd combinations, that doesn't seems too bad (I don't mind the puds,a will abe about the only sugar they get)

But, I know the meatballs are nasty processed ones from a tin, the chicken is off a processed roll type joint and WFT is the nutrition in that pizza? Plus I suspect the beefburgers are poor quality (why wouldn't they be, when serving meatball like those?)

The other choice here is baggette with toppings, not a meal IMO

chicletteeth Fri 17-Jun-11 17:20:47

they are not allowed to enforce this.
Speak to your LEA and also contact the school governor to express your concerns.
It's ridiculous and my guess is they are trying to make money since it does not cost £2 per child a day to provide a cold packed lunch to children on that scale.

BerylStreep Fri 17-Jun-11 17:21:54


altinkum Fri 17-Jun-11 17:22:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ddubsgirl Fri 17-Jun-11 17:23:15

yep out of the £2 you pay only about 50/60p is for the food the rest goes towards the company that runs the kitchen for wages etc

chicletteeth Fri 17-Jun-11 17:26:03

Anyway, all you'd have to do if (in the very unlikely event) this becomes compulsory is say your kids needs specialised meals and that you have to provide.

They can't enforce this and I don't blame you for not wanting to pay for this.

happyinherts Fri 17-Jun-11 17:27:41

Okay - so in theory feckless parents or even poorer parents who cant / dont pay - does that mean their children dont receive food (unlawful)

What about children with allergies who's parents provided packed lunches to reflect that

And cultural preferences? Let alone picky eaters who's parents know exactly what to give them?

This isnt well thought out = children will suffer nutritiously and educational standards will suffer.

And it isnt right or fair

MumblingRagDoll Fri 17-Jun-11 17:28:39

I think YABU. As lng as the food is healthy and well cooked or prepared then what is the problem?

My DD is at a private prep and school lunches are compulsory....cold or hot...they're great value and I know I don't have to make sandwiches....what's wrong with that?

Why the control issue?

x2boys Fri 17-Jun-11 17:28:46

i have to say at my sons school he has school dinners they have a special offer in our lea at present 1pound a day for a hot meal it goes upto 1,25 in september and he has come home with the menu today it looks pretty good and to be honest i think it would cost me far more in packed lunches

chicletteeth Fri 17-Jun-11 17:29:36

Altinkum ,the government can't make school meals compulsory anymore than they can make vaccines compulsory. Maybe in some kind of totalitarian state but not here in the UK

MumblingRagDoll Fri 17-Jun-11 17:30:50

Why assume the food will be shit though?

altinkum Fri 17-Jun-11 17:31:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chicletteeth Fri 17-Jun-11 17:31:42

MumblingRagDoll I will not be told what I will and won't be feeding my kids. If I decide that i like the options presented to me by the school and I'm happy to pay for it, fair enough.
But it would be my choice, not the schools.
What on earth has this got to do with control?

MumblingRagDoll Fri 17-Jun-11 17:31:46

The menus aren't ever going to please everyone....they can't manage that. BUt are people telling me they NEVER serve a fish finger at home!?

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