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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Your views on school meals
School lunch
Junk food will be banned from school meals from next year
The BBC's Mike Baker wrote about the obstacles to be overcome before all children are eating school meals of high nutritional value.

Here is a selection from the many comments we received.

As a teacher I'm all for improving the standard of food in school, but it must be noted that children who actually have school dinners (about 100-150 out of about 630) in our school have these on 190 days of the year, just over half the available lunches in a year.

Then if we take into account what their parents are feeding them for breakfast, dinner and snacks at home - school dinners amount to less than 20% of their intake of food in a year, assuming children eat three meals a day.

Surely the government should be doing more to combat poor nutrition provided by parents, and doing more to stop the selling of junk foods in supermarkets specifically designed for children rather than yet again passing the buck to schools. Don't get me wrong - it's not that I think schools shouldn't be improving standards, but that the bigger picture should be looked at.
Jo, Somerset

I work in an international school and we have recently changed the people who supply our school dinners. They now have salads, a variety of vegetables and fruit. They make the meals "child friendly" by making them colourful so they look appetising. The children are really enjoying the meals and are trying different vegetables and fruits as they are available.

The only negative side to this is that the cost for the school dinners has risen. Is it worth it? Seeing the children enjoying their food so much and having the oppurtunity to try a different variety of healthy food, then I would say yes.
Ruth Short, Kyiv, Ukraine

Thirty years ago when I was a school cook, all meals had to reach a certain nutrional standard that had to be calculated and budgeted for. Fresh meat and vegetables were bought in to cater to this standard - it was a good healthy meal for our children. How could standards have fallen so much, and why has this been allowed to happen, as we have always known how much a good diet affects individual performance?
Barbara Garman, Horsham U.K.

I have been telling people I know for years that diet affects behaviour and good nutrition is essential for optimum health. However, school meals are only part of the picture. Until parents are educated and willing to provide nutritious meals, and supermarkets cease to offer shelf upon shelf of junk foods, the problem will continue.

Nutritious diets for children start in pregnancy, and babies should not be weaned on an exclusive diet of convenience jars of baby foods. Parents need to start cooking!
Mary Ambrose, London, UK

Our children are our future and their education is paramount, and their diet is paramount to their education. Also future strain on our resources such as healthcare can be dramatically reduced by the understanding of maintaining a healthy diet. Simple.
Mitch Redman

On a flippant note - thank goodness Jamie Oliver's own children are quite young: he will have a personal interest in food standards in schools for many years to come! More seriously, isn't this case illustrative of the problems all governments have with long-term high-level spending on projects which are no longer attracting media attention? If the media maintained an interest in good nutrition in schools (and they've already forgotten prisons) then there would be a much higher chance of this being followed through.
Elizabeth Lloyd, Gateshead, UK

The link between poor nutrition and poor/anti-social behaviour is so clear that I cannot understand why the government isn't prepared to put far more money into school meals. I work in a school in an area of high deprivation and the only "decent" meal the children receive is the one at school. The amount of money the government is talking about amounts to about 4000 for a school such as ours. Our kitchen is the original kitchen from 1949 and in a deplorable condition (you certainly wouldn't use it at home). There isn't even a dishwasher so hygiene levels are very poor. 4000 is not going to bring the kitchen up to standard, nor pay for the extra hours needed to prepare fresh vegetables and meat, nor raise the 37p currently spent on meals to an acceptable level.

Jamie Oliver did a marvellous job in highlighting everything that is bad about school meals but it will all be for nothing if the government is not prepared to spend a good deal more. Our children deserve it.
Diana Davies, Sutton Coldfield, England

Poor school meals is a wide-spread issue. Even here, in France, there are concerns - and again measures are said (by the government) to be "in hand". The only way to ensure better monetary provision is to harass the politicians; and in the UK that means Gordon Brown. He holds the purse strings, but also claims a strong commitment to "getting chidren out of poverty".
Derek (Tunnicliffe), Bords, France

Prior to the introduction of the National Curriculum in the late 1980s we had a subject in most secondary schools which taught children about nutrition. In deed in the schools I taught in it was called food and nutrition. This subject was destroyed by the so-called technology syllabus and the introduction of food technology. Now children are taught about the techniques of the food industry - this being the source of much of the junk food which is causing so much harm to young people.
David Dearden, Cambs

Along with a lot of other mothers I have known about food mood and behaviour for over thirty is not a new subject for sure! With people such as Jamie Oliver making their voices heard, why is it still taking so long to acknowledge the urgent and real importance of such matters? Over the years a lot of children and adults have been wrongly diagnosed and medicated, when they should have seen a nutritionalist and been helped with a change of diet!
M Jackson, Suffolk UK

Are schools there to educate or enforce? What we take into our bodies is surely a personal decision. Has the state crossed the line?
Michael Steer, St Austell Cornwall

I support the comments made in this article. A few years ago I conducted research with students at the school I teach at who needed support to develop positive behaviour patterns. Each day they took whole fish oil, and had a bar which contains all the nutrients needed for one day. The nutritional bar was provided by a local company who sponsored the research.The students followed this regime for three months. There was considerable improvement in their attitude, and behaviour. Parents and schools need to work together because the food eaten at home, as well as at school, can affect whether students progress, behave and achieve their potential.
Jan Stoney, Malvern England

While we do have meal programs, for underprivileged children, for the most part, at least here in Ontario, children are expected to bring a lunch, or purchase in the school cafeteria. Imagine that, parents actually making food, and packing it off! The trend could spread, so that meals begin to be cooked at home again.

What you have actually done is make children and parents dependent on someone else to provide meals ( ie the fast food takeaway), with many people growing up not even knowing how to cook a basic dish.
Dave Foster, Toronto, Canada

I don't agree with the idea of using vitamin supplements, even as a short term measure, as there is a danger that the incentives to provide nutritional food will lessen. The lack of studies to determine a "safe" level of vitamins, especially in children, is also very worrying.
Rowan Fothergill, Birmingham, England

I am the catering manager for two senior schools in Portsmouth. I have tried many ways of persuading my schools to embrace healthy eating - eg by proposing food policy, by starting a food committee, by talking to governors and participating in lessons linked with the curriculum for healthy eating. In both schools I have had to fight for every inch I gain with no real support or encouragement. It really would be easier for me to give in until they are ready to move forward.

The food I offer is very good quality, but the kids still make the wrong choices. The only way forward is by good leadership from the top. The people who have the power to change are the head teachers. A whole school approach is the only way forward.
Gaye Bartlett, Portsmouth, GB

I studied food and nutrition as a GCSE subject because I thought is was the easy option. Looking back it was one of the most valuable subjects I studied, providing the basis for a healthy lifestyle since leaving home. Delivering quality nutritious meals at school is a must, and backing this up with an understanding of why would set people up with the ability to live a healthy lifestyle for life.
Craig Mason, Moscow, Russia


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