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We need your comments on the secondary school dinners story....

(51 Posts)
CatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Sep-08 10:50:46

According to the Government primary schools are sorted with better lunches now but secondary schools are still a problem because, although food is better, uptake of dinners is not because of 'social conditions'. So, do you think uptake would be higher if meals were served on china plates rather than plastic trays?

Anna8888 Thu 04-Sep-08 10:53:51


People always eat better when the environment around them is pleasant.

People also eat more slowly (aiding digestion and, crucially, weight regulation) in a calm, low-stress environment.

Carmenere Thu 04-Sep-08 10:54:21

Actually I do think that might help a little, teens love anything that sets them apart from kids, so grown up crockery might help a little. However whilst they have the option and the spending power to choose crap food to put on the china plates it is unlikely to make a huge difference.

nailpolish Thu 04-Sep-08 10:56:13

is it not because its 'uncool' to stay in for school dinners - far cooler to go out of school grounds and to local chippy

nailpolish Thu 04-Sep-08 10:56:51

anna these are teenagers we are talking about

Boyswillbeboys Thu 04-Sep-08 10:57:37

Defintely, secondary school children are capable of using proper plates without breaking them! I cannot bear those awful plastic trays where the main course and pudding is dumped into little sections, all at the same time. Makes me think of a prison canteen.

Anna8888 Thu 04-Sep-08 10:57:43

Yes, we have a teenager in this household you know grin and there are lots of other teenagers in our lives.

nailpolish Thu 04-Sep-08 10:59:14

oh LOL

nickytwotimes Thu 04-Sep-08 11:01:40

Ugh, plastic trays!
We had china at our state schools in the 80s and managed not to break them.
TBH though, if there is an option to leave the school grounds then I'm not surprised the kids go out.

fatzak Thu 04-Sep-08 11:05:47

In the kind of secondary school I used to teach in, crockery would be a disaster!! Far too easy to throw and someone and smash. In fact, as they shortened the whole school day, and as a result had only a 30 min lunch break, they weren't even offered full hot meals, just snacks such as sandwiches etc.

CourtneyLush Thu 04-Sep-08 11:07:59

I don't understand the plastic trays bit either, I went to quite a rough school and we still had proper plates and cutlery. There is something depressingly institutional about plastic trays with a section for your pudding.

Anna8888 Thu 04-Sep-08 11:09:16

We had metal trays at the school canteen I went to.

Needless to say, I never once ate the main meal there.

nailpolish Thu 04-Sep-08 11:09:37

oh LOLjjndmmjmnnfjrjnfjfhhfkhdhh hgjjhfhfhhhrhehuhjjrjhjhhejhhhrhrfnfndrhfbrfyhfgbhjfjjfndjjnfjgjgkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkktn\ mhkklm,hkmnhmkk,m,,fc,c,

AMumInScotland Thu 04-Sep-08 11:10:14

I didn't like eating school dinners in my high school, even though the food was ok and there was plenty of choice.

There was always a long queue, because it was a large school.

The dining halls were loud - lots of hard surfaces, and noisy teens.

We were supposed to eat in our own "house" dining room (big school, divided into 6 houses) - but most of my friends were in different houses.

It was cheaper to go to either the chippy or the nearby supermarket - and since I got a set amount from my parents for the week, I could keep the difference.

We did have china plates though - do they really serve up on trays like in prison dramas these days? Yuck - doesn't help people to feel valued!

TheGirlWithGreenEyes Thu 04-Sep-08 11:11:12

30 minute lunch break is common around here too and with most secondary schools having 150-180 pupils per year I imagine the queues are horrendous and you would have to wolf your food down if you did eventually get served. Dds school does have a longer lunch break but it would still be quite daunting for Yr7 pupils I imagine. She is having school dinners some days this week but mainly because they are letting Yr7 (her year) out to lunch 10 minutes early to beat the rush!

nailpolish Thu 04-Sep-08 11:12:23

oops sorry about that

dd2s first ever mn post grin

Freckle Thu 04-Sep-08 11:12:40

The problem with school dinners is the queuing and waiting to be served. At DS1 and DS2's secondary school they only get 40 minutes for lunch, so, by the time they've queued, been served and eaten their lunch, they've only got 10 minutes or so to do what they want. If they have packed lunches, there is no queuing. They can sit down and eat in 5-10 minutes and still have time to go and have a game of football, etc. Nothing whatsoever to do with the food on offer.

CatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Sep-08 11:13:04

Thanks everyone

SaintGeorge Thu 04-Sep-08 11:14:13

Lol naily, I was worried you had collapsed on the keyboard for a minute there.

The thought of school dinners certainly makes me collapse grin

psychomum5 Thu 04-Sep-08 11:16:13

they also need more time.

smaller children are ok with a shorter eating time. they want to get out to play and run, so they tend to eat quicker.

with teens tho (and I am speaking from what my girls tell me) they don;t have the 'pull' to go and play so want to chat and have a bit of social time while eating. much likes us mums reallywink.

the thing is, at the school my DD's go to, they have 30mins maximum for their lunch break. it is a big huge school and so to actually get to the canteen often takes 10mins. they then need to chose and queue for their food, let alone eat it, and they just NEVER have the time, so they take a packed lunch and have to eat it quickly before the next lesson starts (even with packed lunch they still need to get to the eating area which again can take 10mins, and then they need to find a seat!)

I think senior school need to realise that teens want a longer break, and they then might get uptake on hot meal again.

ShrinkingViolet Thu 04-Sep-08 11:17:18

DD1 won;t have a cooked meal at lunchtime because of the queueing and not enough seating issues, but also becasue her school runs a lot of lunchtime clubs, and there's no way to do both (in fact the school unofficially recommends they eat their lunch at breaktime if they're doing a club shock).
So in our case it's a "not enough time" problem rather than a "no nice plates", or even "no nice food" (quality is apparently OK, just pricey)

TheGirlWithGreenEyes Thu 04-Sep-08 11:24:20

Yes the reason dd's school has a longer lunch break is because lots of the pupils commute a long distance so after school activities tend to be held at lunchtime iyswim, so everyone can participate. At the induction evening for parents we were told by a 6th former that if pupils do a sport at lunchtime they tend to take a packed lunch and eat some at mid-morning break and finish it during afternoon registration!

psychomum5 Thu 04-Sep-08 11:31:38

talking about the eclubs the schools run. mine were sent home with a really snotty letter stating that the school has noticed they do not do any 'extra-curricular activities'.

no, they don;t, as they would not have time for lunch for one (another school here who expects them to do lunch clubs and eat later/ealier), and for another, they do lots after school arranged for and paid for by me.

the pressure from schools now to not eat, but do more, goes a long way to some of the eating probs I am beginning to think!!!

sitdownpleasegeorge Thu 04-Sep-08 11:42:00

We used to break for lunch at 12.50 and restart lessons at 2.15 (I think afternoon registration was 2pm).

A queuing,choosing,acquiring,paying, sitting down and eating experience still needs to allow time for a chat with friends who may be having packed lunches elsewhere.

If hot lunches were free at the point of delivery to all schoolchildren the uptake could be greater. I'd pay a bit more tax for that as I think many poor eating habits could be sorted out in the school years.

sinkingfast Thu 04-Sep-08 11:42:31

Definitely more time.

Definitely proper plates and cutlery.

11-16 year olds should not be going out of the school at lunchtimes.

The Govt has just got to write off the current batch of secondary kids as they are not going to change - concentrate on changing things for the kids who are currently in primary. Also think the Govt should subsidise school meals to bring them down to £1 per day for all in primary schools if they're serious about this.

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