Lumpy custard and gravy with everything… school meals have moved on a lot since my day, which is why I like my children to have them. But, with some prices going up, are they becoming a luxury that many can’t afford?
I love school dinners, I really do! They make my life easier.
Less stress for me in the morning because I haven’t got to knock up yet another meal which is nutritious and fits in with the latest school rules about what is and isn’t allowed in the lunch box. And, most importantly, it’s actually likely to be eaten.
Both of my kids have school dinners which cost £1.60 each. Yes, I could do without writing a cheque for nearly a hundred pounds every half term but I’m still a big fan.
The school dinner divide
I think we should all do our bit to make sure the next generation not only eats healthily but also experiences dining with peers. Did anyone else see the Jamie Oliver series in the US where some of the kids couldn’t use a knife and fork?
Still, I recognise that this is one of the most contentious subjects for anyone who cares for a school child. Want to start a ‘heated debate’ among parents? Then kick off with the subject of school dinners. Some parents believe their children won’t eat anything if they’re ‘forced’ to have school dinners; others argue that pupils should only have school dinners.
At the moment, I happen to believe that school meals are good for my children. I want them to have the option of a nutritionally-balanced hot meal in a supervised environment. I want them to be shown what’s expected when they sit down to eat and to enjoy eating with their friends.
But I know that I have a rose-tinted view; my children are the first to say that the mysterious sauce covering the chicken was ‘disgusting’ or ‘it wasn’t fair as all of the chocolate pudding had gone!’. But I stick with them – and I’m proud that Which? had a role in setting the standards for food in schools.
Are school meals a luxury?
Unfortunately, though, we are at risk of school dinners becoming a luxury that some can’t afford, especially with this week’s news that some school meals will be going up to £2.60, which is sad.
In these times it is an expense that some people have had to ‘cut’. Like everyone, I’m trying to save wherever I can. But – at the moment – I’m not doing this with school dinners. When one piece of fruit can cost 40p, school dinners can work out to be inexpensive – and I might even be saving money. But for how much longer?
Do I believe that everyone should have the choice of giving their children school dinners? Absolutely. I think that they should have the right to have healthy meals which are reasonably priced in an environment where children can enjoy food together.
But should parents have the choice to be able to give their child a packed lunch? Of course they should. However, I do know of one child who has a jam sandwich on white bread in his packed lunch every single day – and that’s not really much of a choice, is it?