School Dinner or Pack Up?

Daily Post Topic #112: Should schools control what kids eat for lunch? Some schools in Chicago now ban lunches from home for health reasons – kids either eat the school food, or nothing. What do you think about this?

I am in two minds about this. Let me start by saying that I went to boarding school so all my meals were controlled by the school and they weren’t that bad. However, my son has a pack up for lunch rather than a school dinner as I can control what goes into it and I know how much he has eaten (or not).

I think that school dinners are great, if they are healthy and nutritionally balanced. However, looking at the menus for the senior schools in North Yorkshire whilst they look healthy they are also limited. What if a child doesn’t like what is being offered on a particular day? Do they choose something and then leave most of it and just eat the dessert? That doesn’t help them when they have to get through the afternoon of lessons. My son used to have school dinners but went back to pack ups as he always wanted to have whatever I cooked for the rest of us in the evening anyway. Also, when I went to one of his school reviews, his teacher asked me if he ate a good tea as the servings for the school dinners weren’t particularly large.

I think that any school system trying to control what children eat is going to have a hard time enforcing it as we have a basic human right to decide for ourselves what we eat. However, I also understand that schools are trying to get away from the days of turkey twizzlers and offer healthy meals to try to combat childhood obesity. I think that this is great and if I didn’t cook for the rest of the household in the evening anyway would welcome the fact that my son would already be fed. I also think that for families who maybe don’t provide a healthy packed lunch a healthy school dinner is a good alternative.

Whilst it is great that school dinners have changed in an attempt to try to combat childhood obesity, it must be remembered that changes need to be made at home too. My son recently took part in a cookery club at school “Let’s Get Cooking” during which they made lunch once a week to eat at school and invited parents to come in and taste some of the things they made at the end of the scheme. This encourages children to get into the kitchen and make meals from scratch rather than buy them ready-made. We not only need to educate the children but the parents as well.

Finally, one last thought, it is all very well for schools to ban packed lunches to try to get the children to eat a healthy lunch but it must be remembered that nutrition is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. They need exercise too. When I was at school, we had 4 lessons of PE each week (2 single and 1 double), this has reduced by half in 20 years – my son has one double lesson of PE each week. All other exercise has to be incorporated into life outside of school. If schools want to help with childhood obesity then they need to include more activity into the school curriculum as well as changing school dinners.


2 thoughts on “School Dinner or Pack Up?

    1. Fiona Sefton

      At least that was more than they get now. Even in primary school the boy only had to take his PE kit to school 1 day a week. I used to have 3 separate sessions of PE all the way through school.

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