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AIBU

To expect children have enough to eat?

(58 Posts)
gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 12:41:04

Apparently some children are being sent to school with a "lunch" of a few cold chips or a packet of biscuits.

Should this really be going on in 2013? Are we heading back to the dark ages?

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284069/Children-sent-school-biscuits-cold-chips-lunch-cost-everyday-goods-rockets-threefold.html

glassortwo Mon 25-Feb-13 12:56:22

I haven't read the link yet but what happened to free school meals.

I was surprised to find out that if a parent applies for a free meal the school is then given an amount of extra money even if that child has free meals for 1 week. Our Head has started a campaign to get families who should be getting free meals to apply, and then both the children and the school benefit.

gracesmum Mon 25-Feb-13 13:01:08

I do not personally think it is really to do with cost - toast and jam doesn't cost that much, a bacon bap OK a bit more and porridge (shock horror!) is dirt cheap. And whatever happened to Readibrek ?(apologies for the spelling)
I think it is the mentality within some families and the "permissive" grazing attitude that says that if children want a packet of crisps, let them have it. Our school used to do breakfasts for the students - bacon and toast was popular and then it was stopped because of "staffing costs"
It is appalling and such parents are guilty of neglect, IMHO angry

glassortwo Mon 25-Feb-13 13:03:55

I thinks it down to laziness on behalf of some parents that they will give a child a packet of crisps rather than cook something. You can cook something much cheaper than you can buy junk food and carry outs.

glassortwo Mon 25-Feb-13 13:08:30

Or are we back to the same argument at school they are not given the skills to do so! sad

FlicketyB Mon 25-Feb-13 13:12:10

The fact that we expect children to be properly fed, clothed and cared for does not mean it always happens. There are a large number of idle, addicted, or incompetent and uncaring parents around. There always have been, there always will be.

Unfortunately it is the school who pick up these problems and are then expected to deal with them. The problem is the more meals that are supplied at school the less the failing parents will do for their children.

annodomini Mon 25-Feb-13 13:18:15

The better fed the children are, the better they will perform and therefore the better the school's position in the performance tables. A simplistic analysis, I know, but there is something in it. Many schools do provide breakfast clubs which should be unnecessary but which are well attended.

gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 13:30:39

I think the article is mainly referring to children's lunch boxes. My GC mainly have school dinners although not sure about the quality for the price. Occasionally they have a packed lunch however the school are quite strict with what they will allow in the contents. No chocolate or biscuits allowed.

I think it is about time all children had free school meals and wonder what the actual cost of this would be.

I agree with you FlicketyB but that is not the poor child's fault is it?

I know a teacher in an extremely deprived part of Newcastle who starts every morning with a round of toast and fruit generously donated by local businesses.

gracesmum Mon 25-Feb-13 13:33:27

I am also not sure we should necessarily be looking to schools to impart basic information like "Give your child a meal" Certsinly not blaming them for the shortcomings of selfish parents who do not appear to have a clue. But school Home Ec. never taught me anything of future use - nor, except by example did my sainted mother. OK who is to teach young people then? Well I suppose it does come down to some sort of Home Ec. (and I DO NOT mean "home technology) or parentcraft/basic survival /nutrition etc education. But what an indictment of society.

gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 13:55:14

I think breakfast clubs are a really good idea for younger children especially if both their parents are working.

JessM Mon 25-Feb-13 14:22:19

Number on school dinners is used as an indicator of poverty/deprivation. Hence the extra money per head if a child is registered for FSM.
It is not always lack of money - it is lack of having your act together as a parent for whatever reason. Little boys given £5.oo in the morning and spending it all on superacridacidgobstoppers was my biggest shocker when visiting before school.

gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 14:25:26

Are you saying the number on any school dinners JessM or just free?

I cannot see how a child having a (paid) school dinner equals deprivation quite the contrary I would say. confused

Jenner Mon 25-Feb-13 14:36:33

I think it's a sad reflection on a 1st world country that this debate should even raise it's head. As someone who cooked school meals for over 20 years and was responsible for planning, purchasing and preparing nutritious meals for over 400 children everyday, they were always enjoyed by the children and deemed very good value. Everything was made from scratch, fresh vegetable, fish, meat was always served. I like to think that my contribution made up for the shortcomings of parents who didn't or couldn't cook. Very few children brought packed lunches and our lunches were far ahead of the times (aka Jamie Oliver).
Since then I have travelled overseas extensively and met parents who cook fresh vegetables and rice each morning so that their child would have a nutritous meal each day, they were poor but knew the importance of giving their children nutritious food. I'll stick my neck out and say that a parent who sends their child to school with crisps and biscuits for lunch is just plain lazy.

LullyDully Mon 25-Feb-13 14:40:22

The schools get extra money for every child on free dinners as it is a rough marker to poverty within a family.

When I taught we had several children who had a 'sneeky' breakfast because of their inadequate parents. Hunger affects behaviour and it is long time to lunch if haven't eaten since the previous lunch!!

gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 14:41:28

I agree with you Jenner it is sad. Mind you I often wonder what planning goes into the school meals at my grandchildrens school. Both of my GD's love good food. they are not great meat eaters (although not veggies as such) they love vegetables, rice etc. Sometimes when I see what is on the menu or more often than not what is left when my eldest eventually makes it into the dinner hall at 1pm I am quite frankly shocked !

Barrow Mon 25-Feb-13 14:43:13

Not being a parent myself I may be sticking my head above the parapet here but just how long does it take to pour some milk over a bowl of cereal?

I came from what could be described as a deprived background but always had breakfast before leaving for school (the dreaded porridge!) and my mother worked full time in a factory meaning she had to leave home early in order to get the bus to work (no car). She would make the porridge before leaving and my brother and I would heat it up once we were out of bed

grannyactivist Mon 25-Feb-13 15:03:25

There's a wonderful charity that provides free breakfasts in schools, for children who otherwise wouldn't (for a great many reasons) eat before lessons begin. Some friends and I are on a sponsored 'healthy eating' plan to raise money for this (and another charity called Mary's Meals).
www.justgiving.com/ourdailybread-magicbreakfast

vampirequeen Mon 25-Feb-13 15:12:48

I've seen some awful packed lunches. Try telling a parent that two bars of chocolate, a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink doesn't constitute a proper lunch then brace yourself for the abuse.

But even worse is the parent who sends nothing assuming that we wouldn't leave a child to starve.

vampirequeen Mon 25-Feb-13 15:13:27

Sorry my grammar is all over the place today blush

TerriS Mon 25-Feb-13 18:09:24

Obviously this is a contentious issue that is open to a great degree of subjectivity about what is healthy and what is not. I do remember when my youngest was in Year 2 and was/is - like all my children - a 'skinny tin ribs' with a ravenous appetite and energy levels that knows no bounds. Anyway, she eats a healthy, varied diet with little 'junk' food and one day I gave her a Cornish pasty in her lunch box. Not a cheap, mushy one but a 'proper' pasty from a Cornish baker's. She came home and told me that her teacher had said that in future she was to bring a 'proper' lunch and that a pasty wasn't sufficient! We did laugh - I can't imagine a Cornish miner complaining that a pasty wasn't sufficient food! She carried on taking pasties....

Bags Mon 25-Feb-13 18:24:41

terris, smile. Nice story. That teacher needed to learn a thing or two.

JessM Mon 25-Feb-13 18:32:43

Under the Oliver inspired school food police rules a fried egg bap is not considered appropriate breakfast. it has to be griddled.
Many primary schools in our borough do not have kitchens and the FSM kids get a sandwich.
The physical amount of food you get in a cooked "school dinner" these days is quite small. A slice of pizza and some salad is a snack for a teenager not a meal. They are still obliged to serve a "dessert" as part of a school meal, so some of the meagre expenditure goes on that.
When I was a teacher the really hungry boys used to wait til the last serving so they could get seconds or even thirds. Don't get that opportunity these days.

nanaej Mon 25-Feb-13 18:40:13

Sorry..why exactly is it a school's responsibility to teach children to cook and have a balanced diet? Rhetorical question..I know the answer!

In the schools where I was head we did what we could via lessons /breakfast club, adult ed etc but really parents are responsible for this.

I think my understanding of meals and their preparation came from my mum and grandmothers. I did do some home economics..apple crumble, baked apple and shepherds pie as I recall..bit limited but cheap!

POGS Mon 25-Feb-13 19:40:51

Jess M

May I ask which Education Authority do you reside within?.

You don't have to answer if the question is too personal.

I am just interested as you say many primary schools in your borough don't have kitchens and the free school meals children have a sandwich. Presumably all the pupils have sandwiches or cold lunches.

Deedaa Mon 25-Feb-13 19:54:05

Do tell JessM how do you griddle an egg? I can't think of any way that would be edible confused

In spite of both his parents working full time my GS has always had a big breakfast - his best mealo of the day really- and my daughter has always found time to bake cheese scones or cheese straws or similar for his lunch box.

Dresden Mon 25-Feb-13 20:01:07

I think that it is very sad that children don't get proper meals every day, and really it is the parents' responsibilty basically. If they genuinely can't afford to feed their children there are free school meals and also charities that help by providing food for desperate families.

I feel that it is a problem in society. Years ago people felt they had to keep up a certain standard in terms of looking after their families, or the neighbours would judge them. Now it is not considered acceptable to criticise anyone's life choices and if someone has the temerity to do that, they get very short shrift.

I used to have a friend whose children were privately educated but got a very unsuitable diet at home, with meals, if any, at weird times.She would often buy a ready cooked chicken and let them eat it in the back of the car on the way home from school. Other times they seemed to live on a diet of crisps, so it 's not just a question of lack of money.

JessM Mon 25-Feb-13 20:15:26

deeda you use a flat heating surface with a minimal amount of fat on it I guess. As opposed to a frying pan with a big puddle of oil in the bottom..

LullyDully Mon 25-Feb-13 20:17:13

No you are right, some people can not and will not put their children first. Not only the poor are guilty.

When fruit was first given to KS1 cuildren many would turn their noses up at it. We found they got used to it generally.

Ana Mon 25-Feb-13 20:30:16

Dresden, I agree with the first two paragraphs of your post. Some parents do get affronted by any suggestion that they might not be giving their children a healthy diet - remember the mothers passing burgers through the school railings when the Jamie Oliver school meals drive was going on?

You'll hear parents say that their children 'won't eat' things like salad or vegetables, but it's usually because they've not been introduced into their diet from an early age. Cold chips, though? I can't imagine who would really enjoy those...confused

Bags Mon 25-Feb-13 21:13:57

Isn't a frying pan a flat surface and couldn't a small amount of cooking fat be used? It really sounds as if problems are being invented rather than cured! The pudding thing is ridiculous too.

gillybob Mon 25-Feb-13 21:40:52

My grandchildren would rather have 2 plates of veg than a pudding any day.

You are right LullyDully many of the children in my granddaughters reception class will not suffer the fruit delivered by " the fruit man". They are usually offered either a small apple, banana, orange or some cherry tomatoes. My GD claps her hands if its cherry tomatoes as none of her friends will eat them so she has an extra large portion. Yummy. smile

glammanana Tue 26-Feb-13 11:35:11

gillybob I have a GD just like your's she will raid the fridge for tomatoes and grapes and DD cannot keep up with her some days,she goes to the fridge and not a tomato in sight.Both of my youngest DGCs are skinny minnies not an ounce of fat on them but they are the healthiest of children and they are very rarely unwell all down to the fruit and veg that they eat.Always on the kitchen table is a vast amount of fruit and DD does not find it expensive to provide this as she says it would cost more per week to supply crisps and sweets and convienience foods.

annodomini Tue 26-Feb-13 11:49:39

My youngest GS (like his uncle as a child) loves cucumbers and will also raid the fruit bowl when nobody's looking. He and his brother are not fussy eaters and will more or less eat what's put in front of them. When the older one started school, his mum was surprised to hear that even in the reception class the majority of children took packed lunches and she didn't think this appropriate for a child of only just four. She compromised by giving him sandwiches on Fridays but the rest of the week he had school dinners.

LullyDully Tue 26-Feb-13 12:03:59

It is amazig how many kids enjoy cucumber ! My Gch do, but will fight over broccolli and sprouts. Dead easy to feed. Sadly gone off fish but may come back to it.

granjura Tue 26-Feb-13 15:13:46

What measure could be taken to ensure that parents do take responsibility for feeding their children? Those who can't afford to do get benefits- so how could we ensure that it is spent on good food? Many of the children who had free school meals at the secondary schools I taught at made really unhealthy choices for the available money - like a plate of chips with several sugary cakes and a sugary drink - but any suggestion that a roughly balanced meal had to be chosen was considered an attack on personal rights.

Bags Tue 26-Feb-13 15:38:58

I notice that we're not talking about children having enough to eat any more, but about whether they eat what is regarded as a good enough (healthy) diet. Meanwhile childhood obesity is the highest it's ever been. I'm sure the problem exists, but I doubt if children not getting enough to eat is a big problem in this country.

vampirequeen Tue 26-Feb-13 15:58:30

I've worked with children who were so underweight you couldn't miss they were malnourished. Naturally they get the input as do the children who are overweight because they were malnourished too. The most worrying though are those who conform to the norms when the bmi tests are done. I've seen children who's teeth are black from too much sugar, who rarely drink milk, eat dairy products or fresh vegetables and live pretty much on takeaways but they don't get monitored even though they're probably the most malnourished of all.

JessM Tue 26-Feb-13 17:00:33

Go to a school in a wealthy area and observe the average size of the 15 year olds. Then go to a school in a poorer area not far away - you'll notice the 15 year olds are smaller. And then compare a "top set" in maths or english in that poorer school with the kids in the "remedial set" - you will notice an even more pronounced size difference with many of the slower pupils at this age looking more like 12 year olds. sad

Bags Tue 26-Feb-13 17:35:56

It is surprising, isn't it, that in this age of universal education, that gap has not narrowed more.

JessM Tue 26-Feb-13 18:16:27

Yes it is. And we hear a lot about obesity. But to be honest, in really impoverished areas, not that common (certainly not the very impoverished area that I am thinking about)

JessM Tue 26-Feb-13 18:16:48

And they come to school with disintegrating shoes. sad

granjura Tue 26-Feb-13 18:37:39

One of the students in my tutor group used to come to school with tattered shoes, and we knew mum was struggling bringing the kids up on her own. The Senior teacher team met with the Head of Board of Governors, and decided to visit to tell her the school would pay for a pair of sturdy school shoes for the boys. She presented a bill for Timberlands at £80 a pair (15 years ago). A vicious circle. The UK is unique in its support of those in need, and that is so wonderful. But some get into a vicious circle of need which gets passed on from generation to generation. Comparing with other countries I've lived and worked with, I just do not know what the answer is. But the UK system of care does seem to create long-term dependency for far too many.

harrigran Tue 26-Feb-13 19:22:00

I have heard mothers say " oh he wouldn't wear those shoes/trainers, it doesn't have the right name on " How come they can afford to be so choosy ?
JessM I do agree with what you are saying and such a shame that children may be deprived of a good diet whist the parents continue to smoke.

POGS Tue 26-Feb-13 19:51:07

I am shocked that some schools do not have kitchens, as Jess M pointed out.

That means there are schools where a hot meal cannot be provided.

My GC had a lot of trouble with her teeth. The dentist told us it was her diet. Too much fruit. confused Can't win sometimes.

vampirequeen Tue 26-Feb-13 20:30:45

I worked in a school where the kitchen produced meals for several other schools and meals on wheels. The food was taken in insulated boxes. I was always glad we got it freshly made.

Deedaa Tue 26-Feb-13 20:56:10

Thank you for that JessM I suppose I have cooked them like that when I've been "slimming". Actually it was very slimming as they were horrible so didn't get eaten grin

Bags Wed 27-Feb-13 07:34:59

Been thinking... People eat cold pasta and cold potato salad. Jane Eyre ate cold porridge that would otherwise have been given to the pigs, and was glad of it. After all, cold food is just as nourishing as hot food, if not always as pleasant to eat. But, who knows, maybe some people like cold chips, and how many is a few?

So, I'm thinking, that a 'few' cold chips for lunch might be fine actually, if that's what you like. If I liked cold chips, I might well have them for lunch sometimes, just as I sometimes have and apple and a slab of chocolate (good (and I mean good) mountain food). I think that because we can be so choosy, we are getting too picky and too critical of what is in fact good food.

How do I know potatos are good food? Well, Irish peasants, including some of my ancestors, lived on them as a staple for generations and not only survived but increased their survival rate. That's the bottom line – survival to reproduce offspring that also survives to reproduce. How life works.

Bags Wed 27-Feb-13 07:40:35

I expect the Irish peasants ate them cold quite often too.

JessM Wed 27-Feb-13 07:55:43

We went to italy on holiday once. My DH, half Irish, was delighted to discover that they had a kind of large ravoili with a potato based stuffing.
I suppose potato growing in Ireland meant that it was much easier to produce calories from a small patch of dampish land than by growing any other crop.
The graph of population decline (death and emigration) is extremely steep - it halved.
It is not necessarily the case that parents are all smoking at the expense of their children's diets harrigran. In some cases no doubt. But have you ever tried to feed a family and pay the bills while receiving benefits? It is not much money.
Food banks are becoming common in UK cities and it must be embarrassing to turn up and ask for help.

absent Wed 27-Feb-13 07:57:55

JessM The government has commissioned research into why food banks are being and have been set up all over the country. Well that's money well spent. confused

gillybob Wed 27-Feb-13 08:02:13

Typical Absent why commission research on the bleedin' obvious? The money spent on the so called "research" could probably provide hundreds thousands of children with a decent meal !

Sometime don't you just want to SCREAM ! angry

Bags Wed 27-Feb-13 08:39:47

The Irish population declined because of a lack of potatoes (because of the blight) though, jess, not a surfeit. Your post is a little ambiguous on that score.

JessM Wed 27-Feb-13 09:20:14

Sorry I left out the words "post famine". You know i didnt mean that the population declined as a result of eating too man potatoes bags you tinker. grin
Perils of an impoverished population relying on monoculture.It is sad to see the abandoned settlements throughout Ireland.
It is not much talked about there - but in the back of people's minds I guess they remember that the English refused to help them.

annodomini Wed 27-Feb-13 09:29:09

absent, that just beggars belief. Surely that is the height of hypocrisy.

Bags Wed 27-Feb-13 10:25:09

I knew what you meant, jess, but others who don't know Irish history might not have. (anyway, I like being a tinker wink)

gillybob Wed 27-Feb-13 11:34:36

Moving on from the original thread. I hate it when cafe's or restaurant offer children's meals as opposed to smaller portions of the main menu. The children's meals offered usually consist of the usual (very boring) fish fingers and chips, chicken nuggets and chips, sausage and chips, plain pizza and a burger.

My GC love most kinds of food from pasta dishes and risottos to curries and traditional roasts. angry

JessM Wed 27-Feb-13 11:42:12

in our local indian restaurant a demand for such food would be followed by someone nipping out the the back door into Budgens to buy fish fingers grin

harrigran Wed 27-Feb-13 12:00:23

Nothing wrong with cold food Bags I eat cold rice pudding and custard and love cold baked beans, legacy of hiking and Youth hostel holidays. I don't eat cold chips but there again I hardly ever eat chips.
We have had to resort to paying for full adult meals for GC because they don't like whatever and chips.