My children take packed lunches to school. For me, as a parent, this is a way I monitor the amount of food my children eat of a lunch time, as any uneaten food comes home. Also, having a child who takes medication, which suppresses his appetite, I need to know how much he’s eating to make sure he is getting enough calories per day.
I was quite alarmed this morning, when listening to my new found favourite radio station, LBC 97.3, that schools in England are being urged to ban packed lunches and ensure every child has a school meal instead – which is supposedly healthier.
The school the children attend is classed as a “healthy” school. Sweets, Chocolate and fizzy drinks are banned from packed lunches and children are encouraged to drink water rather than squash (although a carton/bottle of juice is acceptable in a packed lunch box). However, it is acceptable for them to hold Cake Sales and “Chocolate Tombola’s” where every child is asked to bring in some chocolate, so they can then purchase raffle tickets in order to win the chocolate donated!
Now, every week I receive the school newsletter. Attached to that newsletter is a copy of the following weeks school meals.
Here is what a typical weeks school meals look like:
My eldest two aren’t the best eaters, and Jake can be very fussy, sometimes refusing to eat sandwiches and either not wanting them or wanting crackers. He has come home on many occasions with a full lunch box not having eaten anything at all. I admit now that my children do have a packet of crisps in their lunch boxes. They also have fresh fruit and yoghurt, because I know it’s what they like and what they will eat!
I know for a fact, that they would not eat most of that menu. Not only that, but they keep harping on about how school meals are “healthier” and more “nutritious” and whilst I can see that yes, some of the meals probably are, the desserts are not! Why not offer yoghurt and some fresh fruit instead? There is also the argument that a 4-year-old in Reception class is dished up the same size portion as a 10-year-old. They are 2 completely different sizes and can not be expected to eat the same portion size!
We then also have the cost of these meals. Children are in school for 39 weeks of the year. I checked our County Council’s website and School Meals are charged at £2.05 per day, per child. I have 2 children currently in school, that is £20.50 per week or £799.50 per school year! When I have all 4 children at school, that would cost me a whopping £1,599 per year on just school meals alone! That does not include uniform I have to buy, school trips I have to fund, as well as money and donations for everything else that I am asked for! I simply cannot afford that sort of money, when I know I can pack a fairly nutritious, filling lunch of foods that they actually like for similar price!
It is not just as easy as saying ban all packed lunches to stop obesity in children. Banning packed lunches WILL NOT stop obesity in children! You need to teach the parents about nutrition and teach children in class about nutrition and to make healthy choices. Councils need to STOP allowing fast food restaurants pop up near our schools.
Banning packed lunches WILL NOT CURE CHILD OBESITY!
What are your views on the proposed banning of packed lunches in schools?