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Free school dinner/lunch for all! Ridiculous!

Discussion in 'Personal' started by delmamerchant, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    But currently free schools meals are available for those whose parents are on low incomes. Would it really be life changing to also offer them to children whose parents earn more?
    wanet and BelleDuJour like this.
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Social cohesion - and perhaps the obesity problem - will be helped by all pupils having the same experience.
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    That's whether do at Michaela.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  4. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I think they are now only available to those on benefits, they used to be available to working people on low incomes and I think they still should be. For the first year that my daughter was at school she was entitled to free meals (plus a clothing grant) as I was still a student.
    Kartoshka likes this.
  5. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I have no prejudices about school meals, I see them every day of the week, And so do my children - they eat them about once a month or so, and God help me, so do I!

    I normally have tuna and potato if I end up resorting to school meals. £4.50, and the best thing on the menu. 3x what it would cost me at home! ( That price would include hard sponge and cold custard if I wanted it)

    My children would have a cheese sandwich, with a leaf of lettuce in it, because I try and encourage "greens" and that is most likely the only green thing they would see.

    and maybe a smoothie.

    Again, well over twice what the same thing would cost me to provide at home.

    AND TOO SMALL for my huge, and very active son, who will need a pack lunch AS WELL as a school dinner.

    And we are a "flagship" borough as far as school dinners go!

    They are good value for cafeteria food, but the very fact that it is cafeteria food means most of the cost is staffing.

    Frankwooley, do you have any big sporty sons!? If you do, you will know that school meals are totally inadequate.

    Are you a single parent, or a parent on a low income? Then you will know that school meals are totally out of price range!

    a portion of "salad" £1.00???? This is a few leaves off a lettuce that cost 30p, and a tomato that cost 10p, before we paid someone to wash and cut it all up and mix it together.

    You want to deduct the cost of someone washing and cuting and mixing from my child benefit?

    I make my children's salad with ingredients they like and will eat, and wash and cut and mix it myself for free!
    Laphroig likes this.
  6. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    But they will only have the same experience at school. Once they leave school, they will all have differing experiences. Some will have refused to eat their healthy school meal and will be allowed to fill up on unhealthy snack foods on the way home. Others will be offered a healthy snack or nothing until dinner. Dinner may or may not be a healthy meal, or may not be provided at all, depending on the family.
    wanet and BelleDuJour like this.
  7. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Ah, thanks for explaining that. I lived in a different area, so the education authority differed to yours!

    Mine had a heated swimming pool in one of the secondary schools since 1920, we learnt to swim there from starting juniors until we left at 11.

    Having worked in London, l saw children being sent in with yesterday's left over chicken and chips. Whilst working in Suffolk, one lunch box contained 2 packet of crisps, a chocolate bar and fruit shoot. Both of these children had parents who worked ZHC, and just missed out on FSM. When they were contacted, they stated that the rents had gone up.

    One child came in with nothing at all, other kids were giving him an item from their lunches and we didn't kind out for weeks until one of them mentioned it in passing. His parents both worked as farm labourers and got paid by how much they picked, after rent and bills, little was left for food. They gave him breakfast and dinner, the rest was beyond them.

    I haven't even mentioned those children whose families visit the food banks.

    It's funny how we only ever look at things through particular filters, as I did in my earlier post.
    InkyP and install like this.
  8. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I think we all need to recognise our own experience is not universal.

    We spend taxes on all sorts of things. Ensuring children are fed (never mind whose responsibility it should be) is something fairly simple, fairly cheap and which would have a huge effect on other aspects of education.

    There was a scheme in Glasgow to address terrible levels of tooth decay in very young children. They basically started brushing teeth in school. Levels of decay improved. Yes, parents should be teaching their children to brush their teeth and supervising the process but it simply wasn't happening. So what do you do? Sit back and let the kids' teeth rot because it's their parents' responsibility or make a positive intervention?
  9. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    *That's what they do at Michaela.
    (I swear my autocorrect is a sentient being whose sole purpose is to annoy me.)
    slingshotsally likes this.
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    It's not difficult to feed children healthy food on a budget.
    What is needed is education.
    Education as to what good nutrition is and how to cook from scratch.
    Schools should not be doing the parents' job for them.
    wanet and dunnocks like this.
  11. Jude Fawley

    Jude Fawley Star commenter

    I well recall the day the school kitchen ran into problems. Maybe something got burned but there was a shortage of food for some reason or other.

    To remedy this, the school had all the children who paid for their dinners go in first in the queue and we who were on free school meals had to wait and go in last.

    As an exercise this was easy to carry out because free school meal dinner tickets had holes punched in them. They were useless to trade for cigarettes and easily identifiable.

    This all happened forty five years ago but I still recall it clear as a bell.

    I don't know how the administration of school dinners happens now but I'm sure it's digitalised and there is no evident indication that you're on free school meals.

    I wonder how long it took the secretary to punch those holes in those tickets?

    It was a diverse intake. Range Rovers dropped off some kids and we came on the school bus (or didn't in my case) not being able to affords a school jacket let alone a badge and tie. Shoes were a constant problem.

    At Primary, I recall they once sent out for cornflakes for me and my brother to give us breakfast.

    But clothes were a problem, writing materials were a problem. Everything was a problem.

    It was destructive to put us into any social setting.
  12. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    So if parents don't do it (or can't because they don't know how to cook or budget themselves) we should just step back and leave those kids hungry or "eating" a can of budget energy drink for breakfast?
    bombaysapphire and InkyP like this.
  13. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    I'm not a fan of watching children suffering from hunger or malnutrition. As for educating the parents, I can't recall cookery lessons for all children at secondary school being a priority in the last 25 years.
  14. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    There is still the problem that some kids clearly only have their dinner money card and never, ever have extra cash instead. If their friends are all choosing to go to the shop, they tag along rather than eat alone and pretend the they weren't hungry.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Lots of idealism here, regarding how schools ought to provide healthy food.
    Less said of the reality of the practicalities of making healthy food en masse. O no, I feel a list coming on...

    Firstly, sourcing healthy food is expensive. we don't live in a market economy. We don't source locally. We pay a huge mark up for import, packaging, VAT, marketing, branding, distribution, storage, bal bla. Even at wholesale level. We pay hardly anything for that which actually goes down the gullett. That's the current reality. Alternatively we can grow our own, or we can order from our local Capable&Verdant, whose fliers testify huge cost. Schools can do neither.
    Secondly those who churn out the food require a living wage.
    Thirdly those who manage the whole thing require a profit.
    Fourthly our biggest first world problem is the facility to say "I don't like..."
    Fifthly our second biggest first world problem is the facility to say "I can't eat that, it's against my morals"
    Sixthly (which as a word, sounds wrong!) the notion of healthy is subjective and historically liable to flux.
    Seventhly schools are not autonomous in their decisions-they are answerable to a huge extent to parental voice.
    Eighthly many catering managers would need a retrain
    etc etc etc

    The food industry in the UK is a moral cesspit. We are all victims of the profit motive which will always be king over a drive towards health. Unless you produce everything yourself. My earlier reference to costing an actual portion of school pudding at about 1.63 pence is, in fact, a financial reality, if not, somewhat generous.
    As we are regularly told, every little helps.
  16. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    And this is my point.
    We need to ditch 'Food Technology' and make 'Food and Nutrition' compulsory.
    But we still should not be doing the parents' job. Where will it end? Sewing up torn uniform? Washing hair and cleaning teeth? Washing dirty clothes?
    We are educators not social workers.
    dunnocks and wanet like this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Means-tested. Not universal benefits.

    Not child allowance for all. Not pensions for all. Not free prescriptions for all people over 60. I benefit from free prescriptions. There's no mechanism whereby I can pay even if I offer!

    It's ridiculous.
  18. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    At Primary school children go into lunch together and no money changes hands. I assume that is the same everywhere.

    At my grandsons' secondary school children have ParentPay cards which I would guess are pre-loaded in a different way for children on FSM, so no money changes hands there either. Obviously some parents might put more money on than others but my grandsons have to stick to their budget equivalent to the cost of school meals.

    I have done all of these and found food for hungry children. It shouldn't happen but it does. What would you do? Leave the child hungry, cold and dirty? Even while you are taking other steps - contacting the parents, alerting Social Services the immediate needs have to be addressed.
  19. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I'd be worried if I tried to wash a child these days! In a world gone crazy this could be seen as assault at best and sexual abuse at worst.
    Sad. But true.
  20. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    In Early Years it is a fairly frequent occurrence when children wet or soil themselves so not such a big deal. My TA once 'accidentally' spilt something on a child on photograph day when the child was clearly aware of and unhappy about the state of her clothing. She was very pleased with the spare clothes we put on her and we put her own clothes in the washer. That child's mother had Parkinsons, as I remember it, and was was obviously struggling. I wouldn't say it happened all the time but it did now and then for various reasons.

    I'll add that I would never have done this for a child who didn't want it and older Reception children would be encouraged to do as much as possible for themselves.

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