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to want free and compulsory school meals?

(117 Posts)
LissyGlitter Mon 02-Nov-09 11:35:45

I really think that they should make school dinners compulsory. Two choices, both healthy and balanced, preferably seasonal, even better if it can be local or grown/raised/cooked by the kids themselves. One of the options could be vegetarian/vegan, but any other dietary requirements would have to be proven by a doctors note or religious requirements. The kids would kick off at first, but they would soon have to learn to eat what they are given. It would stop parents sending a packet of biscuits for lunch (my sister is a teacher and sees all sorts of ridiculous packed lunches sent by parents who obviously don't care) and would teach kids to try new foods. They would most probably end up healthier as well.

<dons tin hat>

Tee2072 Mon 02-Nov-09 11:37:57

Yes, because this worked so well when Jamie Oliver tried it. It wasn't like we didn't see on the news mums bringing chips and other rubbish to their kids and hand it to them through the school gates, now did we?

serenity Mon 02-Nov-09 11:39:08

I'd quite like free meals but not compulsory. I loathe being dictated to by anyone, and I particularly dislike the idea that I should lose my autonomy over my children's meal choices because some others parents are numptys.

So, yes YABU to a certain extent :p

thecookiemumster Mon 02-Nov-09 11:39:34

YABU. It should neither be free nor compulsory. Most schools have a healthy eating policy anyway, so packed lunches have rules in place.

My dd has school meals but I would never expect it to be given free. There are much more worthy things for which the money is needed than feeding children whose parents can afford to do it themselves.

Deadworm Mon 02-Nov-09 11:41:14

I live in one of the areas where there is a pilot project of providing free school meals for all pupils.

It has given me the push I needed to make me require my son to have a school meal instead of a packed lunch. He is enjoying school meals, and the uptake at the school has generally been very good. Hardly anyone now has a packed lunch.

LissyGlitter Mon 02-Nov-09 11:41:52

tee not sure what we could do about those mums, clearly something should be done. I'm thinking better playground supervision or something... Those poor kids, they will probably be ill before they even leave school, and will have a lifetime of health problems, not to mention a lifetime of missing out on good food because they have been conditioned to not try anything "unusual".

elmotaughtddtousethepotty Mon 02-Nov-09 11:42:31

think most people who can afford to pay should do so, but i'd deffo like to see 'school meals' (proper healthy choices!) rather than school canteens offering endless chips, processed chicken nuggets and sausages. packed lunches though are up to the individual parent, not for us to dictate.

throckenholt Mon 02-Nov-09 11:43:35

I wouldn't like this. We eat as a family in the evening - we wouldn't be able to do this if they had had the main meal of the day at school.

You have to find a way to educate the parents not to send in a packet of biscuits instead.

Tee2072 Mon 02-Nov-09 11:43:35

I agree with you lissy but what are you going to do about those mums? They have every right to feed their kids crap just like you and I have every right to feed our kids non-crap. Well, my kid is still exclusively on formula, but you know what I mean!!

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Mon 02-Nov-09 11:45:47

I agree with free, on account of being told by the government that we must send our children to school for so long each day.

Not sure about compulsory. I am a better cook than the local schools grin

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Mon 02-Nov-09 11:45:52

Our GP woudn't dign off on DS1 and ds4'sdiet as he thinks all such things arecrazy, but without his GF / CF diet he goes loopy and hharms people.

However luckily the Paed Dietician backed us up anyway and it is given, but any dietary requirement involves a -1 meeting with Head of School Meals and Dietray Pead so could you imagine?

But on thw hsole I agree- we send ds1 and ds3, but not ds2 as he A) likesto be with his frinds and B) likes to be away from DS1. Oh and we cannot afford it x3 (youc annot get freeschool meals with CTC, only if on income support,which we are not as dh works PT)

prettyfly1 Mon 02-Nov-09 11:46:34

I can understand how frustrated you feel about parents who send their kids with crap but YABU. I would be livid at being told I had no say in what my kids ate and wouldnt stand for it. I feed a healthy balanced diet and dont need any more state interference in how my children are raised ta.

cherryblossoms Mon 02-Nov-09 11:47:45

Lissy - My dc used to be at a school that pretty much did that. As a result, the meals were better quality. BUT they had a kitchen, so the food could be prepared on site AND the school was maniacal about providing decent, healthy food.

In new school we started out with school meals but quality was shocking and it often ran out, resulting in dc being given a cheese sandwich. The result was that most dc take sandwiches and the meals are in a terminal spiral of decline.

So, I'm generally in favour of what you're saying. I think it's the only way school meals will work, however ... can see some problems. Don't like the coercive element at all.

Think Deadworm's pilot group might, actually, be the way to go. How's it going Deadworm?

prettyfly1 Mon 02-Nov-09 11:48:50

Oh and my son is highly, HIGHLY allergic to e-numbers. Which can come in beans, stock cubes, gravy granules, certain cheeses, soups etc etc etc. I have worked bloddy hard to change his behaviour which has meant strict dietary management and I do NOT trust that a school would be as strict as I am - it is very difficult to do.

LadyMuck Mon 02-Nov-09 11:49:56

Both of my dcs schools have compulsory school lunches (private sector). There are still be some children who won't eat what is on offer, even after several years. And whilst the idea of trying lots of "new" foods sounds good, realistically there are still budget/kitchen and possibly skill issues. Plus if the dishes are compulsory then you run the risk of children being hungry because cook's newest creation has backfired grin.

Neither of mine are particularly faddy eaters, and one in particular is an enthusiastic eater who will eagerly try new things. But even he doesn't eat every single meal put in front of him. He knows what he likes, so prefers to be able to choose.

thecookiemumster Mon 02-Nov-09 11:51:37

"I agree with free, on account of being told by the government that we must send our children to school for so long each day."

Nope Pavlov, not true. You don't have to send your children to school at all, the government gives you the right to home school.

LilyloovesGuyFawkes Mon 02-Nov-09 11:52:47

Throckenholt we still eat a main meal together as a family in the evening. I find mine are starving when they get home from school regardless of both having school dinners.

I would love to have free or reduced school meals.
DS has always had school dinners but now dd has started at school too we are finding the £85 month too expensive.
Think we may have to go to packed lunches which is a shame as they both like the dinners. Ours are good meals we get sent the monthly menu home.

gigglewitch Mon 02-Nov-09 11:53:15

yabu - ridiculous idea.
school meals are not good at my dc's school, in the entire borough in fact they have a rolling four week menu, of which not one day my children could have, as the children are dairy free - one is allergic, the other two are intolerant. No suitable alternatives are provided, so no way would I let my children near school meals. Not that I would trust the kitchen staff to ensure that their food had absolutely no dairy contact at all either.

Think about it lissy - I read every single packet that comes into our house and don't use processed food at all. There is absolutely no way that school meals would be made of food that's not processed.
FWIW my children would happily eat the whole range of foods, they adore veg and their version of "sweet stuff" is actually fruit, because they can't have chocolate or sweets with gelatine in, which rules out most sweets. So I would completely support the idea of school producing proper healthy meals, but I don't think it will ever be a reality.

thecookiemumster Mon 02-Nov-09 11:55:22

Lilylooves - We are the same, it's not like the children are full up for the day by having a school meal for lunch.

madamearcati Mon 02-Nov-09 11:56:30

ABU -why should the general populus have to pay to feed my kids ? I want to have the right to say what they eat not the government

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Mon 02-Nov-09 11:57:10

HAving been in to ensure that the boys stuff is most importantly dairy free (both severely intolerant) then I was quite surprised to be shown how goodmany of the ingredientsa ctually are.

much of it is made on the rpemises- especially puds etc, Yes they use gravy mixes etc, but tehy were happy to buy in DF versions. I supply them with DF yoghurts for emergencies, a pack or two of DH marge a term, and they refused to allow me to supply the rest.

That was ds3'sschool anyway, ds1'sschool isn't quite as good and seem to resent it, so iwouldnt trust for a minute for an allergic child (turned out they were eliminating eggs but not cheese for a while hmm).... wotrth going in and trying to get the mesure of the school cooks IMO and IME.

cherryblossoms Mon 02-Nov-09 12:02:57

Why should the general populace pay for my dc's meals?

Well, the thinking is that you need a critical mass taking up school meals in order for the school to be able to provide food of a decent quality.

What tends to happen at the mo, in some areas, not all, is that a number take sandwiches (some by choice and some who, though they don't qualify for free school meals, still find it makes a difference to income to take sarnies). The take-up of meals goes down; quality falls; more dc take sandwiches; quality falls further.

Then you are left with ONLY the dc on free school meals taking up the school meals option and the quality is dreadful.

So, the idea about all meals being free is that it is the only way to ensure that there is decent food being provided to the kids on free school meals.

There's other reasoning too, which I'm sure Lissyglitter witll be a long to argue for but that's one line of reasoning.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 02-Nov-09 12:15:49

YABU - you choose to have children so why should the state feed them for you at the expense of the taxpayer? There is hardly any money left in the pot as it is after current benefits etc are paid out.

As long as you are happy with what you feed your own children then I dont see what difference it makes what other people deem fit to feed theirs.

LuluSkipToMyLou Mon 02-Nov-09 12:19:38

I LOVE the idea of compulsory free school meals. Oh wait, my son has anaphylactic reactions to milk, eggs and nuts, and the catering staff can't guarantee a safe meal for him. Never mind, we'll just make him feel excluded in YET ANOTHER way... hmm

love the idea of free, but dd1 would rather starve than eat hot food at lunch time (ASD) but does have a very healthy lunch box

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