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Free school meals for all infant children

(564 Posts)
Scarletbanner Tue 17-Sep-13 17:11:15

What do you think? I think it's a great idea.

seanp3 Mon 23-Jun-14 12:52:00

Conspiracy theories aside , this gift would make it easier for working parents to work longer hours in the knowledge that their child was at least getting one hot meal a day . To the government this would equate to more tax pounds in the pot ; the working parent would also benefit financially . As a stay at homer my fear is that we are moving towards the scandinavian model where my approach to parenting is coming under threat and it is becoming difficult for parents to choose to stay at home . Is there ever such a thing as a free lunch ?

duchesse Mon 30-Sep-13 12:40:13

I think schools should nurture their pupils, not simply gather them together each day for the purposes of delivering the curriculum to them. Part of nurturing young children and not so young ones involves feeding them. To my mind ensuring that children are adequately fed whilst in the care of their schools is absolutely part of the school's role. Schools would be extremely unwise imv to neglect the basic wellbeing of their pupils.

snowlie Mon 30-Sep-13 09:06:13

.....and the evidence from the studies which supported the idea that school lunches improved school performance wasn't quite as convincing when analysed by More or Less on Radio 4.

duchesse Sun 29-Sep-13 13:00:27


duchesse Sun 29-Sep-13 12:59:45

Did anybody hear the Food Programme on Radio 4 about school lunches? Crystallised everything I believe about good school lunches and how the schools with the best take-up run them. Should be available on iPlayer soon or listen to it again on Monday afternoon.

passedgo Tue 24-Sep-13 20:17:26

The school run should go from 8am to 1 pm with a snack. Those who wish to, or do activities, should have a meal.

Or, they could subsidise food oulets that offer healthy takeaways, no doubt Mr Leon is waiting in the sidelines to fill the inevitable gap.

What was it I worked out upthread? 300 children in 30 minutes? No way schools are going to cope with that.

MagratGarlik Tue 24-Sep-13 15:17:18

My secondary school had staggered lunchtimes too. There were three lunchtime slots of 40 minutes each, which one you were in depended on the classes you were taking.

It was a large-ish (1200+) school for 13-19 year olds. It is possible for larger schools.

Talkinpeace Tue 24-Sep-13 13:57:09

that sounds like a timetabling nightmare, especially in a school with lunchtime activities and sports for all year groups (as DCs does)

how big was your school?

DCs is over 300 per year group so lunch would go on most of the day ...

at their primary, all the kids sat down in two sittings but that was only 200 kids
there are primaries in London with 1200 pupils

duchesse Tue 24-Sep-13 13:52:50

My secondary managed it by staggering lunch hours for each year group- it can very easily be done with forethought and determination.

Talkinpeace Mon 23-Sep-13 17:40:31

When school catering contracts were put out to competitive tender in the private sector, many were won by contractor companies who deliver food that just needs warming in a cabinet.
Therefore schools had a redundant room and were forced to put it to use.
The school at which I was a governor halved the size of the kitchen to make two study areas for SEN kids.
If they then are expected to provide twice as many meals, they will have to use cook chill methods as there is not enough physical space to cook from scratch.

And where do kids eat?

Well, at DCs secondary, the hall seats 400 - which leaves 1100 eating in tutor rooms, stairwells, corridors, playgrounds etc etc

to build a space big enough to hold all 1500 at once would be a daft waste of resources

KarenRChenard Mon 23-Sep-13 01:36:29

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KarenRChenard Mon 23-Sep-13 01:35:20

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Retropear Sun 22-Sep-13 18:27:53

Duchesse ime schools use every available piece of space.In the last two schools I worked in the kitchens had been made into extra classrooms.

Sirzy Sun 22-Sep-13 14:25:33

i went to primary school from 88-95 and they couldn't have cooked meals for all then (even the exceptionally poor meals on offer). schools will know the local patterns of how many generally have meals and how many bring packed lunches so that will be what they are planned on not planning on being able to provide for all because that would be a massive waste of resources.

My nephew has just started at primary school and over half of his year group of 45 have packed lunches, assuming similar for the whole of KS1 then you would be looking at next year asking that school to suddenly double the number of meals it prepares for KS1/FS if everyone takes up the free meal. If they extend it for the whole school that issue will get even bigger.

They have space for everyone to eat (in shifts as you would expect in a school) but they certainly won't have the facilities to suddenly double the amount of meals UNLESS the goverment is going to provide them with more equiptment and more suitably trained staff.

duchesse Sun 22-Sep-13 14:17:45

That is very sad and totally not right imo!

I had children in state infant school between 1997 and 2003 and they definitely still had the facilities to cook the meals ten years ago. So has this happened in the last 10 years?

duchesse Sun 22-Sep-13 14:13:16

Furthermore I don't actually think that schools should feel able to opt out of providing decent nutritious food to their pupils nor the space in which to eat them- eating meals together is a valuable part of the school day and the communal experience. I once worked in a secondary school that was undergoing total remodelling- one of the underpinning principles of the remodellling was that all the children from a year group should be able to fit into the canteen together and sit down at the same time. It really worked in promoting cohesion and making the pupils feel treated like people. I've had no contact with mainstream state primary school since 2001 and feel really sad for pupils of schools where lunchtime is treated as an inevitable annoyance and a problem to be handled logistically rather than highlight of the day.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sun 22-Sep-13 14:13:03

Search MN and u will find that kids are eating in playgrounds, class rooms, and in the floor in corridors.

duchesse Sun 22-Sep-13 14:09:12

I am mystified why a school would presume when planning its kitchen facilities that only 50% (say) of its pupils would be having school lunches. What would they do if by some random chance 100% suddenly decided of their own accord to have them? Turn kids away?

And where the jeff do the children eat their packed lunches if the facilities are inadequate for the entire year group?

Sirzy Sun 22-Sep-13 14:06:17

I know of at least 3 local schools where the meals aren't even cooked on site let alone having their own kitchen.

Even if the kitchen is physically big enough to prepare the extra meals where is the money coming from for the extra staff?

duchesse Sun 22-Sep-13 14:00:43

I think the lack of kitchens and facilities thing being bandied about is a complete red herring. Back in the days when many children had school lunches, there were proper kitchens in every school. There hasn't been such an extensive programme of new school building that most schools do not still have the space for proper kitchens- and reinstating them is a positive as it will force schools to get away from the reliance on reheating bought in crap pre-prepared meals.

If every single school in most European countries can manage to provide nutritious lunches to most of their pupils I see no reason why England can't.

sallyst123 Sun 22-Sep-13 12:02:51

me& my partner both work, but with 3 lo we couldnt afford the costs of school dinners so this is great for us we know that in the winter monthes at least they will be having something warm in the day to eat.
its about time that its not only the people who dont work that could do with the help.

MakeHayIsAWhaleNow Sun 22-Sep-13 07:40:00

What breatheslowly said - we don't desperately need it here either, and think that money would be better spent trying to improve things for those that actually do need it in the later years where, arguably, it gets even more important to provide good nutrition.

DH told me that his school provides free breakfasts to all exam students at exam time, and the difference it makes is amazing. I think free breakfasts for those that want to sign up would be a fantastic thing - such an important meal, and would help to catch those who can't afford decent meals and those whose parents have no time/inclination to provide have been discussed up thread.

AbiJen Sun 22-Sep-13 01:32:55

yes, definitely!
but if they are prepared well, and regulated from outside inspectors like an OFSTED report... so it's not sausage rolls and fish and chips.

breatheslowly Sun 22-Sep-13 00:34:26

We certainly don't "desperately need it". When DD goes to school, we will be much better off as we won't have to pay thousands in nursery fees. We definitely don't need or deserve a £400 universal benefit when there will be children in years 3-6 going hungry or children in DD's class who don't get breakfast.

Retropear Sat 21-Sep-13 22:26:00

Waaaaay over dramatic,the vast maj of families are able to cut back in other ways,the minority that can't would benefit from the threshold being raised.

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