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To think the plan to ban packed lunches is crazy?

(118 Posts)
Notcontent Mon 11-Feb-13 10:24:46

Apparently one of the government's proposals to improve healthy eating is to ban packed lunches at schools. I understand the reasoning, that it's to address the problem of parents who send their child to school with a chocolate bar, a jam sandwich and a packet of crisps. And if all schools produced a varied menu of food cooked on the premises then I would be all for it but that's nom the case.

In the borough where I live in London all the schools get their food from a large catering company. The food sounds ok on paper but is really just mass produced slop. Also, while in theory there is choice, in practice there is not. My dd eats a very good range of foods but there are one or two things she doesn't eat and these ingredients seem to feature in every second school meal.

freddiefrog Mon 11-Feb-13 10:52:01

We've recently changed school lunch providers and until they get their act together and ensure there's enough food to go round, and the food is good quality and healthy, there's no way I'll be paying £2.50 x 2 per day

I can provide a good, healthy lunch for 2 girls for the price of 1 dinner

Parents who don't care what their kids eat, still won't care. Parents who do care are just annoyed it

TomArchersSausage Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:22

Gosh the word 'ban' gets used an awful lot nowadayshmm. And yet the reality of banning anything means an awful lot of expensive backup and legislation to enforce it.

Instead of banning packed lunches (which they won't cos it's a mad ill thought out idea anyway) why don't they just accept that as far as healthy eating goes they can only ever advise about food/exercise/lifestyle blah blah and then back the hell off. If people want to feed themselves or their kids crap then they will.

EdgarAllanPond Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:26

so, the government haven't proposed this

a non-thread then.

let's not get our knickers in a twist about it.

AngelsWithSilverWings Mon 11-Feb-13 10:53:27

I'd fight against a ban all the way.

My kids get a healthy balanced packed lunch , sticking to the school's healthy food policy, and then a home cooked meal in the evening.

The hot dinners at our school are not healthy in my opinion and until they improve the quality my DCs will not be having them.

WorriedMummy73 Mon 11-Feb-13 10:54:00

My oldest 2 have school dinners, as they like the food (pretty good at their school) and we're entitled to free dinners. Youngest takes the same packed lunch every day - cheese spread on 50/50 roll, fruit juice, yoghurt, small treat. He is a massively fussy eater and won't even contemplate a school dinner when it's pizza (which he actually likes)! He would simply refuse food if they brought this in. It'll never happen.

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 10:54:25

Packed lunches were banned at DD's school (private school so they can do that; only exceptions for severe allergies, I think) and as far as I can tell, she hasn't eaten a balanced meal since. She is vegetarian, and while they do a vegetarian option every day, it is nearly always something covered in melted cheese or otherwise massively greasy. She hates cheese, and won't eat really greasy things. I think part of the idea is that lack of choice and peer pressure will encourage fussy eaters to eat everything, but that certainly hasn't worked for DD in the 18 months since they changed the rules.

So pretty much every day I am paying £3 for a protein-free lunch of half a baked potato (with nothing on - the only options are cheese or tuna), a few bits of salad and a small pudding (which she often doesn't eat either - runny jellies etc). She would be having a much more nutritious lunch if I could still send her in with a packed lunch - I often did Japanese-style bento with rice, tofu, vegetables etc.

givemeaclue Mon 11-Feb-13 10:57:18

My sil is in France, no packed lunches allowed, but school dinner excellent. But she pays 6 euros per child per day for lunch, in pounds she pays £240 per month for 3 kids lunches (4 days per week)

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 10:58:06

They can't enforce this. They can not force parents to pay for lunches kids will not eat. Many kids will have special dietary needs and many parents will have objections. It won't happen.

And at many schools I do not believe the school dinners are at all healthy or nutritious - at our school they are basically ready meals made by a profit-making private company who will no doubt use the cheapest ingredients they can find.

DD is suspicious of what's in them (hidden veg she won't eat grin ) and I am suspicious of what's in them (crap).

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 10:59:53

School dinners sound lovely in France.

I think many would feel differently in this country if schools cooked fresh meals but they do not - round here they all reheat mass-produced ready meals.

PavlovtheCat Mon 11-Feb-13 11:00:15

I went to school for lunch a couple of weeks ago, parents of the class get invited. It was minging. I had macaroni cheese and I cannot say there was any cheese in the stodgey overcooked slop on my plate. the carrots may once have been freshly cut but were so overcooked there would have been zero goodness in it. Others had the healthy option of jacket potato - dry, no butter, or spread, and dry lettuce leaves. No wonder she rarely eats it when she has it.

It's been an eye opener for me, as we have been giving her hot school dinners most days in part due to difficulties doing a packed lunch, and partly as it meant not needing to cook her full meals in the evening, just a light supper of scrambled eggs on toast etc, but after this meal, I have made sure she has a fully cooked meal in the evenings too, which defeats the point and so she is back on packed lunches.

TidyDancer Mon 11-Feb-13 11:02:41

The school dinners at DS's school are dire and therefore over my dead body would I be paying for them.

It's not an issue of cost either, I just don't want my DS to have to eat that inedible shit every day.

I realise this isn't likely to actually become a regulation, but if it was I think we would continue to send in packed lunches and defy the ban, or it would have to be home for lunches.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 11-Feb-13 11:03:07

It would be appalling of true however I'm reasonably sure it couldn't be enforced. I have three DCs in three different schools and the veggie and (especially) vegan provision in each is atrocious. This morning I had an (unsolicited) email from one of the schools explaining its 'meat policy'. If they had spent half as much energy on their vegetarian policy then my DC wouldn't have to eat packed lunch outside (whatever the whether, rain, sun, or snow) every day. She isn't even allowed to have peanut butter sandwiches yet they don't provide a proper veggie option in the canteen at all (just rancid non vegetarian cheese based slop). It's outrageous.

ComposHat Mon 11-Feb-13 11:03:39

It is precicsely none of school's business what parents chose to feed their children.

Advise about nutrition by all means, but banning things from lunchboxes is as far as I am concerned way out of order.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 11:04:33

>I think part of the idea is that lack of choice and peer pressure will encourage fussy eaters to eat everything,

My DDs primary didn't allow packed lunches, and I think there were days when she didn't eat much at all (other than breaktime fruit) - she didn't even like potato! But by the end she was less fussy - I nearly fell off my chair when she asked for cabbage.

But on the whole it would probably have been better if she'd had packed lunches.

BobbiFleckmann Mon 11-Feb-13 11:06:25

it's not a government proposal but the idea put forward by the advisors (both of whom I know personally) is based on the economics of school catering. At present the uptake is so low that the volume discount from bulk buying doesn't kick in which makes the lunches more expensive per unit - the point is that the more people take school lunch, the cheaper it should / will become while still being able to factor in an improvement in quality.
The two advisors do run a successful restaurant chain, one cooks himself but they met at and their background is in management consultancy - they are bloody sharp business brains and their paper is based on the economics of school catering as well as the nutrition / healthy eating.
a lot of their ideas will remain just that - I can't think of many schools who are going to have the facilities to be able to offer cooking lessons for all pupils enabling them to have a repertoire of 20 dishes by the time they leave - lovely idea, but likely to be madly impractical.

SaladIsMyFriend Mon 11-Feb-13 11:06:50

Our school has "chicken sausages" - gawd knows what's in them sad

A parent I know has been to an event where parents can try the school dinners and said they were inedible. Her DD was immediately switched to packed lunches.

Primrose123 Mon 11-Feb-13 11:07:12

This wouldn't have worked for us. My DDs are now in secondary school, but the school dinners in primary school were expensive and not good quality.

DD1 is extremely fussy, and if I had paid for her to have school dinners I might as well have put the money straight in the bin. There is no way she would have eaten the food they serve. She only likes dry food, not mixed, and there are loads of food she doesn't like. The peer pressure argument doesn't work for her, believe me, I've tried it. I accept now that she only likes a limited range of food, and I give her healthy packed lunches that she enjoys.

DD2 is the complete opposite. She loves her food and will eat practically anything! She occasionally had school dinners as she wanted to try them. The roast dinners were good, but some of the others were awful. There was supposed to be a choice, but ususally there wasn't. Very often, her lunch would be pizza and spaghetti hoops. They seemed to serve spaghetti hoops every day! Also, by the time she got to year 6, the portions were just too small. She was 5 foot 3 in in year 6 - very tall and skinny like a bean pole - but she was always hungry! Yet she was given the same size meal as a small child in reception!

Packed lunches work so much better for us. I would resent having to pay for food that my children might not like, and I wouldn't have any control over it, and wouldn't know if it was healthy or not.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 11:08:23

If there are going to be school lunch police, shouldn't the emphasis be on insisting that children do have certain items (some sort of protein, some fruit/veg) rather than banning anything? Not that this is enforceable either, but it seems that 'healthy eating' comes across as unhealthy negativity about food rather than the positives.

TroublesomeEx Mon 11-Feb-13 11:09:02

I'm horrified at the school dinners offered actually.

My daughter has been having school dinners since Christmas because many of her friends have them and she wanted to give them a go.

But pizza, plain pasta, mixed veg and a cake and custard is a very interesting take on a 'healthy' meal.

Her packed lunches were so healthy sad We might have to go back.

WorraLiberty Mon 11-Feb-13 11:10:13

It wouldn't work in my DS's school.

It's one of the largest Primary schools in London and kids already have to eat their packed lunches in a classroom because the 2 dining halls are full...despite them staggering lunchtimes.

SignoraStronza Mon 11-Feb-13 11:13:21

Dc's (state) primary offers school meals 100% cooked on site (I know the lovely lady who cooks them) and made from locally sourced ingredients - but we are in a farming County. The menu looks lovely! To me, is well worth the £2 a day to ensure she has a decent meal, especially on days I have to rush her out for activities. Also dh sometimes doesn't get home until late so means I can give her beans or egg on toast or something and cook us a proper meal for later.

Appreciate we're really lucky here though also only have one dc at school at the moment.

jamdonut Mon 11-Feb-13 11:15:25

Meals in the school I work at are lovely! I have one now and again,if I've nothing in my cupboard to take for lunch! I eat exactly what the children are having. It is very rare that processed things on the menu.
But it becomes expensive for more than one child,which is why I never paid for mine to have them (just slightly above the free school meals threshold!)

Pandemoniaa Mon 11-Feb-13 11:15:57

There's no way that packed lunches will be banned. Not least because it is incredibly difficult to introduce legislation that bans anything, let alone something that would create an enormous hoo-hah and would be almost impossible to enforce anyway.

If schools want pupils to eat school dinners then the ball is in their court. Reduce the price and introduce edible and healthy food. Until then, parents will continue to opt for the usually far superior packed lunch.

girlsyearapart Mon 11-Feb-13 11:17:44

russian she can't have peanut butter because another child (like mine) could die just by sitting next to her.

No nut policy pretty much everywhere nowadays I think?

gorionine Mon 11-Feb-13 11:18:01

I totally desagree with theidea of it!

I work as a dinner lady and the children on school lunches do :

a) chose the same backed potato every day
b) when they do not choose the baked potato they eat about a fifth of the lunch and bin the rest.

I see a lot of lunchboxes (including my own Dcs) that are healthy enough and when they come back home with si.ll food in them, at least the parents do
know exactly what their children have eaten.
I know if my Dcs were on school lunches (which are not bad at all, I eat them frequently myself --I sneakily add salt and pepper on mine though--blush) they would answer I had such and such but totally omit to say they have not actually eaten half of it. When school lunch become compulsory I will home school my Dcs (primary school ones), the ones in high school are able to choose food that is reasonably healthy and actually eat it.

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