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Free school meals - what's happening at your school?

(131 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Apr-14 14:32:19

Hi there

The BBC is reporting the challenges many schools are facing in the run up to introducing free school meals for infants (in England).

Nearly three thousand schools will have to improve their kitchens, while 1,700 schools currently have no kitchens at all.

We at MNHQ were just wondering what is happening at your kids' school? Is anything changing in the run up to free school meals being introduced in September? Are new buildings having to be added or changes made to where the school meals come from? Will the time your children have lunch or what they eat change? Is the school worried about the change or is it something being positively welcomed? Are you looking forward to the change?

Any thoughts - do let us know.



motherinferior Tue 08-Apr-14 14:35:21

Ahem...the BBC is (sorry). Is a singular.

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Apr-14 14:42:31

Thank you Motherinferior. You can tell the strengths of my school... (maybe 30 years on I need a new excuse). I know it's bad form to amend an OP but am going to anyway!

motherinferior Tue 08-Apr-14 14:48:58

I feel really bad now blush. Sorry. Am having Bad Editing Day. Like Bad Hair Day but with dangling apostrophes.

lynniep Tue 08-Apr-14 14:52:15

oh its happening is it? I didn't realise it was going ahead <doh> Not heard anything from the school. No idea. someone point me to the finer details?

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Apr-14 14:58:39

No problem mother, it happens all the time....

Yes lynniep it is happening, it will be for all infants in England - reception, year 1 and year 2. You can read the finer details here, although this info. is primarily for schools and governors rather than parents (still very interesting though). We're going to be pulling some content together for MNHQ too.

lynniep Tue 08-Apr-14 15:06:40

Well fancy that! DS2 starts primary school in September, so thats him covered. DS1 starts KS2 (Y3) in September so will miss out. Ah well. He likes packed lunches better anyway.

Back to original question though - the school has not mentioned it at all. If it had, I'd be better informed than I was when I wrote the previous post grin

I do wonder if they will be equiped to cope with the extra children having school dinners purely because they are free now. It will certainly make a difference as to whether parents provide packed lunches or not (me included). Having said that - its not a big school - only one class per year - so the kitchen facilities will have been designed for the number of children that attend its just whether they will need extra staff to cope.

mrz Tue 08-Apr-14 15:11:53

I teach in one of the pilot areas so my school is all prepared and was providing free school meals for all children not just under 7s.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 08-Apr-14 15:12:04

We haven't heard anything at all yet, so I have no idea.

rockybalboa Tue 08-Apr-14 15:20:47

DS1's school have told parents that they have taken over running of the kitchen which will apparently give them greater control over the food they serve and the quality of ingredients. They have asked for suggestions from parents to improve their repetoire of vegetarian meals as they will no longer be offering halal meat. Although they haven't made any mention of this change being related to the free school meals for KS1. All this seems fine to me. What I understand less is the fact that they have decided to have International Day once a week and the 3 sample menus for International Day are 1. Fish, chips and baked beans, 2. Hotdogs with 'real sausages' and potato wedges and 3. Pizza, garlic bread and chips! Yes, pizza, garlic bread AND chips. Just like actual Italians eat... * facepalm *

SmileAndNod Tue 08-Apr-14 15:21:55

Not heard anything at all. DD is due to start reception but has intolerances so I suppose she will have packed lunch which will mean that DS will also insist on having packed lunches too...

How are they going to make this accessible to those with dietary issues?

LemonMousse Tue 08-Apr-14 15:27:22

Our school was in the previous pilot of Free meals for all Primary children a few years ago (Durham area) and no changes were made (or needed) to the kitchen for that.

We are a small school though so catering at the height of the pilot for about 70 children whereas now it's about 50.

I estimate it could be about 70 again in September so not really a problem for us.

NeverQuiteSure Tue 08-Apr-14 15:29:17

We haven't heard anything from the school. My DC will be Reception and Year 1, so will both qualify. I'm really hoping the school with either being it in house or get their current supplier to up their game, as school meals are pretty dire at the moment (pretty much protein-free and my already skinny DS comes home starving when I have made him eat them) I will be returning to work in September and it would make our lives so much easier if they could both have school meals.

firstchoice Tue 08-Apr-14 15:38:52

Ha! RockyBalboa - we had some 'international days' via the excuse of the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
The 'English Day' menu ('England is a country in the Commonwealth')
choices were:
sausage, fried bread, egg, chips ('full english')
egg salad and chips (wtaf? and apparently, there was no salad)
ham sandwich and scone and jam
The day before offered 'roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and veg' and the day after offered: 'fish and chips' but some brainbox thought a fryup a salad (without salad) and sandwiches were a better representation of English food choices.
oh, how we laughed at being asked to pay £2.00 a day for those....
My dd eats school lunches
My ds refused, saying they are 'tiny and taste of plastic'
she will learn...

firstchoice Tue 08-Apr-14 15:41:27

sorry to be dopey - hoping to move to England so not been aware of English current regs re free school lunches - will ALL primary kids get free school lunches then???

fruitpastille Tue 08-Apr-14 15:52:29

Our school sent a brief qustionaire asking how likely we were to take up the free dinners, presumably to get an idea of numbers. Not heard any more.

Retropear Tue 08-Apr-14 15:53:15

Ours are being very quiet.

We already have a kitchen however due to it being a large school the children often eat at silly times and the older ones are starving by the time they eat.They often run out too so I'm hoping something is going on in the background to ensure my dc won't be eating even later with even smaller portions and less likelihood of having the meal advertised.Particularly as I'll be paying for my 3.

I'll also be looking forward to hearing how they're going to improve the healthy aspect of school dinners considering atm they're white carb,sugar heavy with hardly any fruit or veg.wink

Twighlightsparkle Tue 08-Apr-14 16:18:38

Here in Scotland free for P1 and P2

Choice two hot meals, soup, two puddings, baked pot, sandwiches, salad bar , bread and butter

SweepTheHalls Tue 08-Apr-14 16:19:23

We are getting a free packed lunch sad

LottieJenkins Tue 08-Apr-14 16:25:12

I wonder what will happen with schools that don't have a kitchen? I used to work in one and when the cook in charge was ill they were cooked at another school and bought in heated boxes. I wonder if that will happen? I have a feeling that a lot of children won't eat them!

FranSanDisco Tue 08-Apr-14 16:29:09

We have been trialling two points of service. It will be chaos as at the moment about a third of the school have dinners, the rest bring packed lunch. We have been told no extra staff will be brought in to help in the hall/servery.

As a TA in Reception getting the right names on to the menu choice board each day is my main challenge but with 30 names .... We will see.

mrz Tue 08-Apr-14 16:29:40

In the 2 years of the pilot we were surprised to have almost universal take up of meals

SoonToBeSix Tue 08-Apr-14 16:30:13

No just all infants so years R to 2

noramum Tue 08-Apr-14 16:42:12

DD will move to Junior in September but so far the school has asked parents to give an indication if their child will have school dinner or packed lunch.

The children all eat together in 2 settings, dinner children can choose from 2 choices at the counter not in advance.

If the food doesn't change I would assume not a lot of parents will swap. We actually swapped from dinner to packed lunch now as DD hardly ate anything unless she begged a jacket potato.

mrz Tue 08-Apr-14 16:49:26

Interestingly the price of our school meals goes up after Easter

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