Schools aren't feeding children enough

(372 Posts)
Squashpocket Thu 05-Aug-21 07:33:53

DS (5 years) has always come home from school ravenous. We have had to give him a 2 course breakfast and full meal sized 'snack' after school to get him through to dinner time. Then sometimes supper before bed as well.

I just thought 'oh well, he's busy at school', but now I'm wondering exactly how small are the portions of food at school?!?

I have sent him off to a (very active, sports based) holiday club this week with a normal packed lunch (popcorn and fruit for snack, sandwich, yoghurt, fruit, veg sticks, breadsticks and hummus and a cereal bar for lunch) and he has come home full and able to wait for his dinner. Breakfast this morning has just been a bowl of fruit and Greek yoghurt and he's fine.

So, AIBU or is school obviously not providing enough food? I'm shocked because this is not how I (fondly) remember my school dinners at all! It was all massive portions of mashed potato and puddings with custard (those were the days...). Does anyone else find this?

OP’s posts: |
Ligglepiggle Thu 05-Aug-21 07:35:54

YANBU but it does depend on the school to some degree. My DS changed schools last term from a tiny village school to a small town school - tiny village school was ‘get what your given’ or a plain jacket potato if they didn’t like it, new school is a choice of two hot meals or potato with beans/cheese/tuna. Portions are still small but how any school thinks a plain potato is enough for a child is beyond me.

Donatella Thu 05-Aug-21 07:36:03

See, that seems like quite a big packed lunch to me, maybe it's just that your child has a bigger appetite than most, the school meals may be fine for other kids but yours needs more, rather than the school underfeeding the majority. Maybe you should start sending packed lunches to school.

DDiva Thu 05-Aug-21 07:36:45

He probably doesn't like the dinners. Also eating in a hall with lots of friends hes probably very distracted st school. You could try sending him with a pack lunch in September.

Iamsodonewith2020 Thu 05-Aug-21 07:38:52

I work in a school. I think portions are teeny. Eg curry and rice is 3 small chunks of chicken, lots of sauce and small scoop of rice.

insancerre Thu 05-Aug-21 07:40:13

Most children don’t eat all their dinner
They just scrape it in the bin and go out to play
There isn’t someone watching every child monitoring what they eat

Antsinyourpanta Thu 05-Aug-21 07:40:46

When I went for a school meal with my DS (he was 5 - parents were allowed to join them for a meal on their birthday iirc) it was a smaller portion than I would give at home.
He moved onto packed lunches in year 3 but normally has a sandwich and a frube (no snacks - I always offer but he doesnt want them) He doesnt always eat his full packed lunch but he eats loads more at meal times at home. I think at school he doesnt want to "waste time" eating when he could be playing!grin

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Ponoka7 Thu 05-Aug-21 07:41:04

You feed him a lot of sugar, are you sure that he's just not craving sugar and on an energy slump because school dinners aren't sugar based, rather than actually really hungry?

RocketPanda Thu 05-Aug-21 07:41:30

Your DS lunch is more than anyone in my house would eat at lunch. Maybe he just has a big appetite?

DingDongThongs Thu 05-Aug-21 07:41:34

I've been told the portions are tiny. I feed all 3 more breakfast and tea also add fruit (filling and healthy)

clickychicky Thu 05-Aug-21 07:42:32

Have you checked he is eating it?

3ormorecharacters Thu 05-Aug-21 07:43:20

I work in a school and portions are pretty small but the amount of food waste is still shocking. Probably 10% of children frequently clear their plate. A great many of them eat hardly anything. The food is fine (I often have it myself), but they just sit there picking at it and need so much encouragement and cajoling to eat a decent amount. I don't know if it's because they're used to having a lot of help at home, or they're not used to unfamiliar food, or just distracted by their friends and want to finish quickly so they can play. Even the children with packed lunches often need a lot of prompting to eat. This is EYs children so I don't know if it changes as they get bigger.

Spiderysummer Thu 05-Aug-21 07:43:29

I'm a teacher and I do think the portions are quite small.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Thu 05-Aug-21 07:43:36

I had a friend who was a school cook. She always complained they had to give the same portion to the tiny 4yo as to the adult size 11yo...

Ask your child what they eat at school. They might be leaving half of it.
And that lunch does sound massive, but it depends on the portion size.

Squashpocket Thu 05-Aug-21 07:43:52

He gets a 'clean plate award' every day 😂 so he's definitely eating it all. He does have a good appetite and is very active, but he's not overweight and is one of the very youngest in his class, so I would be very surprised if he has the biggest appetite. We've also had lots of his friends over for play dates/met for picnics and they all eat the same amount my son does, so he doesn't really stand out in that respect.

OP’s posts: |
OlympicProcrastinator Thu 05-Aug-21 07:44:10

I agree that packed lunch seems really big for a 5 year old so he may have a bigger appetite which the school can’t cater for. Also, by packing his lunch you are giving him food you know he enjoys where’s the school dinners might be less enjoyable for his so he eats less of them. My kids school provides us with a weekly menu so we can see what is on offer, does his school do that? What does your son say when you ask him about lunch? Also, do they have snack time and can you provide your own snack? I know some schools allow parents to do this and others provide snacks themselves. The answers to these questions will help you to resolve the issue.

clickychicky Thu 05-Aug-21 07:44:18

And be careful with those cereal bars, some of them are very unhealthy

Willwebebuyingnumber11 Thu 05-Aug-21 07:45:33

I think his packed lunch sounds quite big, actually.
At DDs school it’s a choice of 2 hot meals or a jacket potato with choice of toppings or a grab bag; sandwich & fruit
They also have unlimited bread & vegetables on the table and a choice of desserts.

Looneytune253 Thu 05-Aug-21 07:47:27

I think (generally) our perceptions on what a child should be eating is skewed. When my daughter was small we had to do some research on portion sizes and portions of weetabix for a toddler were half for a toddler and one for a young child. Sandwich would be one slice of bread. I think we all over feed our kids and maybe the school portions are correct but they're used to what we give them at home. Not personally at you OP but could be part of the root cause of our rising obesity rates.

Jellybeanlovehearts Thu 05-Aug-21 07:48:01

The portions can be small but also it's because some children (not saying yours does) just will not eat certain foods. Even chips, so many of them say things like 'I don't like the chips'. I can usually get them to eat but there are some who point blank refuse and you can't force them. We have a half hour slot for them to get up, get their food and sit down to eat. Some of them will eat quickly, others are so slow and won't stop talking. I always try my best to get them to eat enough and say things like you will be hungry later and you need your energy for this afternoon. There's a lot of food waste too.
Just giving you a bit of an insight from my time as lunchtime supervisor.

Squashpocket Thu 05-Aug-21 07:50:30

This is the amount of food he needs to be full though? He's active and lean and healthy (like all his friends too), but they need a lot of fuel for all that activity. He eats way more than me (because I sit on my bum all day).

The contents of the lunchbox is a realistic balance between healthy things, things that will fill him up and things he will actually eat.

OP’s posts: |
Porcupineintherough Thu 05-Aug-21 07:50:39

We found that school portions were too small in Y5 and Y6 but they were fine when they were little. I think it's perfectly normal for them to come out of school ravenous though. Mine always needed a snack straight after school to get them through to dinner.

BiscuitDrama Thu 05-Aug-21 07:52:46

Ugh to the clean plate award. That’s sending them a really bad message.

HettytheHoover Thu 05-Aug-21 07:52:51

When universal free school meals came in we had to offer out morning snack in the afternoon and raised the portions with ISS our catering provider - apparently their dieticians said it was the western world portion size expectations which were wrong.....

Elephantsparade Thu 05-Aug-21 07:53:51

The meals are an ok portion if the child eats everything on the plate. I think a bit on the small side but not teeny. They are definately smaller than your paked lunch.
Plus the reality is they often don't eat much of it at all.

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