In the UK, most children have their midday meal at school, but in many schools, parents can choose what they eat. The children can have a school dinner – a hot, cooked meal; or they can take a packed lunch with them, which usually includes cold food like sandwiches.
Often parents decide on the basis of what their children want. Cath, a mother of three children told us, “My children have packed lunches, because they say they hate school dinners. So I make 3 packed lunches every morning, so we’re like a sandwich bar in our kitchen in the morning.”
However, another mother, Susan made her choice based on the nutritious value of the food. She said, “My daughter’s always had school dinners. I think she probably gets better healthier food by having a cooked lunch at school than she would if I made a few sandwiches.”
But how healthy are school dinners? Kaz, a father, wasn’t impressed with them, “Fizzy drinks were offered and I think there were a lot of chips.”
The question of how healthy school food is, was brought to the forefront by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who launched a campaign to improve children’s nutrition, after spending a year working in a school kitchen. The TV series about the campaign won a BAFTA award this week.
He was horrified at the junk food which he saw being served which included burgers, pizzas and chips. So he decided to ban the junk, and started cooking some good stews and curries for the children instead.
So Jamie improved the school dinners in that particular school, and trained the dinner ladies to cook healthy food. Then he put pressure on the government to improve the standards of school food across the country. And it looks like the changes have begun.
Anna, a pupil at a secondary school told us, “We used to have a fast food counter where you got chips and stuff but they stopped that this year. There’s a salad bar, which is good, so it’s healthier than it was.”
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