Posted on 16 Comments

School Lunches – “Healthy” versus “Unhealthy”

With grinning faces, the kids love it if there’s pizza, or burgers and chips on the school menu.  Granted, the days of lumpy custard have hopefully spent their last ever days gracing the plates of our growing future generation, but for my kids, stodge is what they want from a school dinner in Aberdeen City.

Making faces that would sour milk, they turn their noses up at school dinner fish, as I’m told it tends to be grey with “bits” on it.   Similarly the soft veg and tasteless fruit seem to be pretty low on the agenda of my hungry horaces at feeding time.

Portion sizes are teensy, and on the one day I was able to join the lunch time rabble, I was shocked how little kids were eating of their meals once they tasted them, and made faces at each other.

I really don’t see the point of meeting Governmental Nutritional Guidelines, or claiming to serve a balanced meal if the food looks and tastes like shoe leather.  And what about the 11 year olds getting the same portion sizes as the 4 year olds?  How is that going to keep them alert during afternoon classes, bellies not full enough from their £2 meal?

So, given the “reasonably low” standard of food on offer in many lunch canteens, why oh why do the schools insist on telling kids they shouldn’t be taking cans of fizzy pop, or sweeties in their lunch boxes?

I’m told by the kids that the staff take cans of pop away from children who have taken them to school.  If it happens, it’s thieving of the lowest proportions from kids, and seems to set double standards that rankle.  All it creates is the sweetie mob and the non sweetie mob hierarchy as lots of parents put sweets in lunch boxes, even when they’re asked not to.

The short story is, that as a health promoting school, we’re not supposed to give them any sweeties to school, but the tables are turned when they sanction teachers using sweets to bribe the kids into better behaviour.

Little children’s brains try to absorb the contents of the healthy living world and come home full of facts and figures on how bad some foods are, yet when the same kids go to secondary schools, (or academy, or whatever else schools at 12 + are) they are suddenly faced with canteen style food of epic fast food proportions, and expecting around £5 a day to gorge themselves on whichever food tasty of the day catches their eye.

I’ve been “reliably” informed by an excitedly animated face, that the food in secondary is as good as Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“That’s good for me mum,” came the  high pitched happy chappie who starts there next Tuesday.   “I need to put on a few pounds,” says the skinny football mad lad.

A response of “Ye’ll get a packed and like it, with a school lunch on special occasions,”  leads to folded arms and a pout worthy of One Direction.

So, after all of this, I have yet to see what the point was of making such a fuss of “healthy” versus “unhealthy” food at primary, if at secondary, they can choose to just get stuffed full of junk and want £5 a day for lunch.  Ok, so senior school moves to a cafeteria style service with healthy choices,  but with many kids, the only choice they will make is the junk, as they often have to eat the healthy stuff at home.

Aside from the fact I am not spending £15 a DAY on kids lunches when they reach secondary, am I the only one who thinks it’s a ridiculous double standard?

16 thoughts on “School Lunches – “Healthy” versus “Unhealthy”

  1. Totally agree with you. I let my kids have school dinner one day a week – they really like the dinners they get – but they are invariably hungrier than when they’ve had a packed lunch. What enrages me more than anything is that school dinner always includes some kind of cakey pudding – which I am fine about – but then we get preachy guidance about what to put in a packed lunch suggesting that we SHOULDN’T put cake and sweet stuff in. Now, I know the guidance is there for all and some are less well informed about what a ‘balanced diet’ constitutes but it would surely be better to try and explain this rather than just say ‘no’. Have to say that my kids haven’t ever had a piece of homemade (well of course it’s home made 😉 for my kids) cake removed from them, but I know that dinner staff take fizzy drinks away. Problem is, once they get to secondary school those that want chips are bound to find them – even if they are not available in the canteen

    1. The pudding thing amazes me too. Agree with how we’re not supposed to give them anything sweet, yet they get chocolate cake and sauce at school which kind of defeats the purpose of the message.

  2. No, you are not the only one! We need to encourage our children to eat a fresh variety of food including fruit and vegetables as well as the more unhealthy options. Schools should be encouraging this by producing healthy options that actually appeal to children.

    When I was in school, my mum made me a packed lunch every day and I was more than happy with it! It’s the cheaper and healthier option in my opinion.

    1. Having the food that appeals to the kids is always going to be the most important thing, but I think I read somewhere, that of the £2 lunch, only about 15p per child goes on food, so it’s understandable that it is often pretty rubbish.

  3. when september hits, im gonna have 1 at home, 1 at nursery, 2 at primary school & 1 at secondary (13yrs)……….i simply cant afford hot dinners every day for my lot and mine only get it on special occassions too, my eldest would love to have hot dinners every day as the canteen in his school is exactly how u describe but if i let him then i cant say no to the other 2…….£6 + a day is just plain ridiculous……so its packed lunches all the way in our house as well…….at least i know what theyve ate with a packed lunch and i do sneak a little bit of chocolate in there sandwich boxes. im a great believer in a little bit of everything in moderation is good, they have a very well balanced diet, so why shouldn’t they have a little treat, at least i know they wont rebel when im not around and gorge themselves on bad stuff when theyre older that they feel like ive deprived them of, im sure if u looked in the teachers lunch box they too will have a naughty treat in there…so should the teachers lunch boxes be examined and they have their treats taken away everyday? (im sure they would have something to say about this) :D………. i think schools should be a bit more responsible in the way they handle and promote healthy eating, i had major problems when my eldest was in primary school and they went all out on what foods he should and shouldnt be eating (now my son is of very slight build and cant afford to loose weight) but he came home declaring he couldnt eat this and he couldnt eat that and he became a very picky eater for a little while….this wasnt good for him, everybodys different and needs different dietry requirements, i think they should really look at what they say to kids a little bit better.

    1. I am told that kids with packed lunches at secondary get called losers and get beaten up. Easy enough to do with one child, but with several, the cost is just too high.

      1. my eldest is going into yr 9 when he goes back in a couple of weeks and hes had packed lunch since hes started and never got picked on or beat up because of it :D……apparently a lot of the kids (and most of his mates) have packed lunch most days and maybe once a week they’ll have school dinner…….i know that the primary school my 5 & 9 yr old go to are putting the price of their school dinners up when they go back to school :/

        1. I suspect it’s an excuse to try and get some more pennies out of bank of mum and dad. I think £2 for a school meal at primary would be good value if it was better quality. Thats a good idea, allowing one school meal a week, so I might pinch that and give him his accord card on Fridays to get a fast food fix.

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