This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
School food(31 Posts)
My DD just started school. I'm a bit shocked by the food. They get fruit and milk at morning break which is fine. Dinner they get a choice of hot dinner or sandwich. The hot dinner is on a 3 week rotation (although Fridays are always fish and chips) and every dinner includes a pudding. The published info says fruit and vegetables are available every day. They get the whole meal together- main course and pudding. What I'm bothered about is that my DD is often choosing the sandwich and says they can't have vegetables with this. She also says she has ice cream every day (this in not on the menu). So often her dinner is ham sandwich and ice cream. I would prefer if they had no choice of opting out of the hot food (or ideally had a choice of 2 hot meals, 1 vegetarian) and that the only pudding was fruit or plain yoghurt (but I accept that is probably unrealistic). I'm actually quite shocked given all the child obesity stats and dental problems that they are giving daily puddings and ice creams. Is this normal?
Yes completely normal. Don't like it? Go to packed lunches instead. I would also take with a pinch of salt what a four year old is telling you they ate. At that age and for many years beyond that, my ds couldn't recall a single thing about his school day when I picked him up.
I know, she doesn't tell us much, the main info I get is about food but I don't think she's lying about the ice cream. The vegetables may be a misunderstanding. I know we can go pack lunches but I think that's also problematic as it will start many years of moaning about the contents (as in we would only give healthy food and she'd compare to others getting more exciting stuff and complain, and I can't be bothered with that). After spending 4 years getting her to view all sweet stuff as treats not a daily event it's a bit disappointing to be undermined by the school dinner 'options'.
School dinners come with puddings at every school. Often high sugar options like sticky toffee pudding and yet chocolate in packed lunches in banned . There's nothing you can do to stop it other than help your child learn to make healthy choices. Ds10 does choose fruit for pudding at school but it took years to get him to that point.
I’m a supply teacher so I go in all different schools in four LEAs.
There are huge variations in school meals in my experience. Especially as some academics manage their own meals.
Lots of schools don’t have the sandwich option. It exists in the LEA but the schools don’t offer it to their children.
In some schools, they have to decide at registration what they are going to choose. So you could look at the menu and say ‘it’s spaghetti bolognese today so ask for that’.
Otherwise I think you should speak to the school about the fact you want your child to have the hot meal option every day. They should be able to do that. As long as you aren’t picking and choosing different things all of the time.
School dinners come with puddings at every school. Often high sugar options like sticky toffee pudding and yet chocolate in packed lunches in banned
This was not true in the schools I taught in. High sugar puddings were taken off the menu and we never policed packed lunches. All juices were also removed from the school dinner menu and only water or milk was available.
Usually the puddings are made with ingredients you wouldn't expect, eg small quantities of apple juice instead of sugar, or packed full of vegetables, eg carrots, courgettes or parsnips. Obviously not the case with ice cream. My DH has been a chef in nurseries and preschools for 10 years and they have strict food gov guidelines to adhere to that have to be nutritionally balanced, although on the face of it sometimes the menus might look unhealthy, everything is made from scratch and using alternative ingredients. He has worked with schools and they have the same guidelines. He had a meeting with a nutritionist the other week who wanted to discuss the menus and whilst sceptical at first, they were very impressed with what they saw. That being said I don't know enough about it to say with absolute certainty that everywhere is the same.
Do you have access to the menu? Our schools menu is on the website accessible to all. You could always ask school for a copy. I remember when my DD started school, she used to say she'd had something in particular but was actually confused because it's what her friend had, or she'd had the day before, or what she would have preferred etc.
Some schools- particularly for the younger children will let you order for them - although this could be tricky as some of the meals mine would quite happily eat at home they said were disgusting at school so then she might not eat anything. One of mine ended up largely vegetarian at school.
The food is often much healthier than the name on the menu suggests.
They are usually low sugar and it you actually taste them are much less sweet than usual. Overall I think the lunches are very healthy.
Have a word with the teachers and tell them you don't want her to have the sandwiches.
It's also worth looking at the actual ingredients in the lunches. They are available on line with a bit of googling.
Every school will be slightly different (mine offers a choice of three hot meals or a sandwich) but most offer salad with sandwiches
*"*^*Often high sugar options like sticky toffee pudding*^*"* I can't speak for all schools but in my area the puddings are sugar free whether it's sticky toffee pudding, cake or rice pudding ...tasteless!
Most of the mains and puddings contain refined white wheat because it’s cheap. There’s very little whole grain or alternatives.
The puddings are low sugar but it’s negative to get children into the habit of having daily puddings like cake. Can’t see why offering only yogurt with fruit isn’t enough. If you look into the nutritional guidelines you’ll find they are pretty basic.
It all sounds normal apart from the sandwich option. My DC's school has hot meal or baked potato and choice of salad bar. The salad bar has cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, ham, cheese. They also let the DC exchange a vegetable for some salad too.
Seriously, do you really believe that hot dinners have a plateful of food and the cold option is a lonely ham roll? Obviously another child has told her this and not the serving staff. It sounds unlikely ice cream is on the menu every day but it is really up to you to encourage better/different choices. I can understand it is overwhelming for children, possibly for the first time in their lives, to have complete autonomy over their lunch! If a server says what would you like, they will pick the thing that looks the most familiar or the most attractive.
Can you speak to your DDs teacher about it to set you mind at ease/ ask them to encourage her to choose the hot dinner option? My DS has just started reception, his teacher is still taking them in to help them choose school dinner at lunchtime. Even if your DDs teacher isn't there they will be able to liaise with the lunchtime staff/ probably already has an idea about how lunchtime goes for your DD.
I do trust school. Everyone at our school rave about school meals. I have a friend who work at school kitchen. Puddings aren't made from ingredients you imagine it would be.
Sadly our school do minimal whole grain. Once or twice a week max. Lots of unessessary refined wheat puddings despite low sugar. Also limp far from fresh veg. Very few alternative grains or carbs.
Schools have to meet fat/sugar/salt limits on their weekly menus, so whilst some do offer a daily pudding, the portions are tiny to meet the requirements. A spoonful of ice cream after lunch can't hurt.
There's a long way to go on the quality of school meals, my personal bugbear is a healthy sounding menu that's made with poor quality ingredient. E. G roast dinner made with entirely processed ingredients tinned gammon, frozen Yorkshires, tinned peas but I couldn't get excited about a tiny piece of cake or a spoonful of ice cream
If you don't like the options shes picking talk to the teacher. My school do 3 options, we have lots of parents who have asked we encourage their child to have certain options, I'm fine with doing this as long as they will eat it. Same with pudding, I have a few whose parents have said they want them to take the fruit or yoghurt everyday, so that is what they get. I warn you though some of the children are not happy about this.
My ds’s primary had a salad bar they could use daily . Never saw it only heard via ds
Our school only has one option, no choice of sandwich/jacket potato etc. Our biggest problem is that DD doesn’t like their version of the various meals (apparently they taste nothing like she has at home!) and just eats veg (although she was disgusted with ‘soggy carrots) and bread.
Surely they have salad to go with the sandwiches? Echo the posters above re the ingredients too, the pizza at DD’s school for example is made with a cauliflower base/crust, and the desserts tend to be sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar.
They’re certainly not perfect, but the alternative is packed lunch and I know we’d fall into the trap of giving the same thing every day and I’d prefer she was having a bit of variety. Plus the social aspect... most of her class have school dinners.
My son has just started reception and to be honest, I was also quite chocked that such young children are offered a dessert every day. They may be made in a healthy way (i.e. courgettes in brownies) but the schools are creating of habit of having a dessert after every meal. How do you then explain to your child that desserts every day is not healthy? Or that the brownie in school is ok but the one in Costa is not.
Pigletin you just tell them 🤷🏻♀️. I’ve had no problems telling DD that dessert is for school lunch only and we still don’t have it at home (we’ve never done dessert). And that the school cake is made with veg and no sugar but cake from other places isn’t.