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School Policing STAFF lunches?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by zmmartin, Jun 27, 2018.


Is it acceptable or am I over-reacting?

Poll closed Jul 4, 2018.
  1. It's acceptable. Get over it and stop complaining.

    29 vote(s)
  2. It's acceptable, but your points are valid.

    10 vote(s)
  3. It's not acceptable. Think carefully before accepting.

    19 vote(s)
  4. It's not acceptable. Get a new job.

    23 vote(s)
  5. Kind of both acceptable and not.

    3 vote(s)
  1. zmmartin

    zmmartin New commenter


    I have been offered a job at a religious school. It is lovely and the students are friendly. There seems to be an ethos of respect and tolerance, which is why I find it odd in their policy to find that staff can only bring certain types of foods on to the grounds. I don't want to say what specific diet as that would identify the religion and school.

    I was curious is this acceptable to dictate staff diets?

    I am a little worried as 1) I have my own specific diet to battle my PCOS symptoms which is strictly adhered to, 2) I may not be religious but I do have my own morals and beliefs and 3) this seems contradictory to their ethos. I'm happy to hide away my lunch from students but this seems a step too far.

    I have included here the copy and pasted policy terms (with parts ommitted):
    2. Staff may only bring in their own food if it is to be consumed out of the premises. Are they going to pay for the meals I can't afford? And give me extra time to complete admin as this means I couldn't have a working lunch?
    3. Teachers wishing to give food to their class should ensure that it is ****. Ok, fair enough. Giving students food is a different issue altogether.
    4 Staff may not remove food from the Dining Hall unless it is on disposable plates/with disposable cutlery Again, ok. Understandably helps keep the school clean.
    5 No non- ***** food may be brought into the school by anyone, staff, or students. Same issue as above. If i'm not free to eat what is right for me and my needs, who is going to pay for and substitute this?

    I'm genuinely unsure how to feel about this and thought seeking other opinions would help me clear my thoughts. As I said, it is a lovely school, but eating is a fundamental part of the day.
  2. dts

    dts Occasional commenter

    I can understand that if the school takes its faith ethos very seriously, they won't want "unclean" food brought on site.

    Does your diet require you to eat pork or non-halal/kosher foods to be healthy? Presumably the school catering team are used to adapting the menu for students with specific dietary requirements, so if I was you I would raise your health concerns with them and see how far they may be able to cater for your needs. You've said that the school is lovely so you may be surprised by how flexible they are willing to be.
    chelsea2 and 576 like this.
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I don't think there are any rules which help you here. You're entitled to 20 minutes restbreak away from your workstation, but I don't think the legislation says anything about entitlement to eat!

    Perhaps you could ask whether you might be able to be given a little leeway in view of your dietary needs. Perhaps you could ask first whether the school's kitchen is able to provide you with suitable food; they may then realise that it might be rather simpler to let you bring your own. There might need to be an agreement on where to keep/eat it, but it oughtn't to be a case of having to go and eat in your car.

    I guess you might be able to pursue it as a reasonable adjustment under disability legislation? But a simple "ask" first might mean you can sort out some sort of compromise.
  4. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    It is, but you have one of your 'main' meals of the day there - which for many people is no more than a sandwich anyway so probably fairer to consider it as a snack than a main meal.

    Unless you have real dietary requirements here which can't be met within school rules, then I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. If it's a question of you wanting to eat non-halal or non-kosher food then I'm not sure why you can't find a substitute for that during the school day.
  5. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    I'm going to guess that this is a Jewish school. If' it were me, I'd look at my lunchtime 'diet' and compare that to the types of food that are 'forbidden' - not the source.
    Avoiding eating a ham or prawn sandwich in the staffroom at lunctime will mean that you will most likely fly under the radar.
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Obviously the school should provide free school meals for all staff (as many independent schools do).
  7. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I think that if this is such a big issue for you then it is probably not the school for you. Have you explored the canteen options? Is there nothing there that might suit you?
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This school is not dictating staff diets.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Here's a similar example.

    I'm a vegetarian. I decide to open a Free School and get funding for it.

    My vegetarianism is one of my core values and I impose a rule about meat products. Am I entitled to do so? Legally? I think I probably am. Is someone going to take me to court over it? On what grounds?

    I think the school is entitled to have these rules.

    I might think that having meat on "my" school premises defiles them. If someone were to apply for a job and turned up with a ham sandwich despite knowing my views then I'd be very angry. Why would they wish to upset me in that fashion?

    We all make compromises. I had to dress smartly for work. I'm normally a complete slob. I couldn't swear at work. There were many restrictions for staff as well as students.

    What @meggyd said. This school ain't for you.
    8sycamore, Mrs-Pip, Gsr25 and 3 others like this.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    No, you aren't. Strictly vegetarian menus are not permitted by the DfE.
    BetterNow likes this.
  11. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    The issue with strict kosher homes/institutions is that the home can be defilled if a non kosher item is brought in. Different families interpret kosher in different ways. We have a Jewish branch to our family. They are very happy to eat out with us in any restaurant but they have strict rules about their home. We eat at their home and the food is always delicious. If you are working at a school where people have these views I think you need to respect it.
  12. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    There are state funded Hindu schools where only vegetarian meals are served.
  13. mm71

    mm71 Occasional commenter

    I agree with some of the other posts on here regarding respecting the religious nature of the school. If it is part of their religious beliefs and you work there, then you must abide by them.

    I was born and raised a Catholic but am now atheist. I have worked in Catholic schools and will do again from September. I have no issue upholding the Catholic traditions and aspects of the school life. I would feel the same about any faith school.

    I think that you need to have a think about whether you are suitable for the school. If you feel so strongly about this as an issue, maybe it isn't right for you after all...
    576, zmmartin and grumpydogwoman like this.
  14. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    All schools, including Hindu schools, must be able to cater to pupils' dietary needs. If a pupil requires a non-vegetarian meal then there must be a menu option for them which meets that requirement.
  15. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Not so;

    If you were in a Catholic school on Friday, would you have the right to insist on eating meat? (Actually we don't have to have fish any more but the question is interesting.)
    zmmartin likes this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  17. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    BetterNow and zmmartin like this.
  18. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    BetterNow likes this.
  20. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    What circumstances would require a pupil to eat meat that couldn't be met by a vegetarian alternative?
    576, Gsr25 and agathamorse like this.

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