A Big Fat Fail!

Packed Lunch

All pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from this September, Lib Dem leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg announced last year.

The change – for children in reception, year one and year two – will save parents about £400 a year per child they said.

Sounds great on paper doesn’t it?

Although you can opt out of having free school meals we made the decision to sign Isaac up for them in the hope that it would encourage him to try more foods, especially vegetables, if he saw his peers eating them, as he can be a fussy wotsit.

It did seem odd not making him a lunchbox on the first day of term, so we set off with just his book bag containing a bottle of water.  He wasn’t impressed he was having school meals, but when I explained everyone was having one he seemed happier.

When I collected him from school I soon found out that school lunches had been a disaster and not only was the food 45 minutes late, but they had tried to feed my son a piece of fatty chicken (the dinner lady had to cut the fat off), cabbage and some “squashed potatoes”.  Dessert was vanilla sponge with no custard!  Needless to say he came home starving.

Of course is made the local news with dozens of schools affected, some ordering pizza and others heading for the local supermarket for supplies.  I can only feel sorry for our new head teacher on her first day being faced by this challenge.

Hoping this was a one-off I sent Isaac into school on Thursday with a few bits in his bag, in case of a repeat of the day before.  I had been unable to go shopping as Eliza and Sebastian were ill, so didn’t have much in the cupboards.

Day 2 was a disaster too.  The curry turned up with no rice and about half the amount they were expecting – the poor teachers were pulled away from teaching the children and forced to make sandwiches for them.  Isaac’s meal consisted of a cheese sandwich and a frozen yoghurt……half what he would have had in his lunchbox.  The little girl I take to and from school got nothing at all as she had been playing when her peers were called in for lunch.

My mind was made up……..Isaac is taking a lunchbox again.  Even the new head teacher couldn’t tell us when the situation would be resolved but because of the promise of providing the kids with healthy school meals they have to do something.  The school doesn’t have a kitchen or the staff to make these meals so they have had to improvise, with Friday’s offering a Pasta and tomato sauce combo that was put together in a spare classroom made by teachers who should be concentrating on the children’s learning.

It seems Mr Clegg’s “every child gets the chance in life they deserve”, to teach healthy eating habits and boost attainment hasn’t got off to the best start.

25 thoughts on “A Big Fat Fail!

  1. No child should go with out a dinner and it sounds as though your Head Teacher is doing her best to try and sort something out for the children. We are lucky that the youngest’s school is fantastic and she really enjoys mealtimes at school.
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  2. Michelle says:

    How awful! The fact that it was so disastrous is inexcusable. When I read stories like this, it makes me more sad that our school system is going further to the dogs 🙁
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  3. Emma says:

    Oh no, that’s awful. I have to admit, my daughter is only having a few school dinners a week as she doesn’t really like them, but it seems ok at our school so far.

    I’ve heard of schools having to expand their kitchens and halls to cope with the extra school lunches, it seems that the cost is going to spiral out of control….
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  4. Emily Wright says:

    This is such a shame to hear. But I am hearing it from mothers across the country. We are very lucky as my daughter’s new school has completely embraced the change and offer fantastic food prepared from scratch which is healthy and filling. My daughter is not really a pudding fan so steers away from the sponge and custard most days (apart from jelly days!!)
    They do not have chips but instead offer oven cooked potato wedges as an alternative. Yes pizza is on the menu but only once a week.
    I for one am very impressed and the school is singing their success from the rooftops as they should.

  5. This is terrible and such a shame as it could have been so great, I have continued with packed lunch and then school dinners for two days as I did before. Not because I doubt them but just because when you ask my son what he’s had he never remembers and some days it is pizza two days in a row. Our school have made no effort to let parents know what is happening and since I have no idea what he is eating (he doesn’t always get whats on the menu) I am happier sending him with a packed lunch thus knowing what and how much he is eating. Hope they can get it sorted and I do wish the government and councils had put more thought into how this would work and maybe instead invested in food education for children and their parents as a long term solution.
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  6. Kate P says:

    Typical government. They introduce the ‘big idea’ then don’t fund it or support it properly. It just ends up giving schools the bad name when they don’t deliver…but with budget cuts and squeezes on already stretched staff, some schools couldn’t possibly succeed 🙁

  7. Louisa says:

    This is diabolical. Luckily our school has had no problems and the dinners are always very varied but we seem to be the lucky ones. It’s terrible that schools don’t have kitchens and dinner ladies anymore. They seem to have parent volunteers who come in for an hour an warm up some pre cooked food instead. They are cutting costs in the wrong places.
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  8. That’s so typical! It’s easy to make big promises and appear on TV. But when you need to open the wallet and get the money out to make it really happen. Well, this is what happens.
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  9. Polly says:

    oh no! such a shame that it didn’t work out, and how awful that some children got no lunch
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  10. Wow! Could there be a more disastrous start to the programme? What on earth is going on?!
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  11. Oh dear, doesn’t sound like they have got their act together yet. I don’t see how they are suppose to serve, feed and clear away three years groups in just an hour… a lot more thought is needed before this will work
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  12. Emma says:

    I worry that this situation is happening nationally as schools are not equipped. Unfortunately many schools got rid of their kitchens in the 1990’s.
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  13. At my daughter’s school before this was introduced if you had a packed lunch you ate it in your classroom due to lack of space. Now the adjacent Children’s Centre has been closed and turned into a canteen. Everyday there is a pudding full of sugar. The menu consists of ‘chipped potatoes’, pizza, burgers, pies and even Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips. So a vital local resource for new mothers has been lost and the school is still serving junk food.
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  14. Oh goodness; how awful! I do think that in many cases it’s all been a bit rushed. Thankfully Harry’s school have stayed with the same provider so I am fairly confident that they will be able to meet the needs of the school.
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  15. What a crying shame this didn’t go well and you’ve had to go back to pack lunches. I hope they sort it as some kids really need them
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  16. That is horrendous. The school my boys go to managed to give out 360 school meals a day last week. It is the legacy of schools not having kitchens and chefs or cooks anymore. I can not believe it. Schools need to have their own kitchens and prepare meals on the premises. Brought in meals are never going to convert packed lunch kids to school dinners
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  17. I saw this on the news. I think it is shocking that they can introduce such a measure without the proper provision. X
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  18. Rachel says:

    Doesn’t sound too good, though there was always going to be issues until a routine is ready and everyone is used to it. MY nephews school has a similar problem on day one and two, but now it is working brilliantly.
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  19. Oh dear that sounds like a disaster. Something has obviously gone wrong somewhere. Hope it improves pretty quickly!
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  20. If the school has no kitchen or staff means, then how can they pass on healthy foods to kids.
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  21. jade says:

    I don’t really know think it’s the government’s fault it would be the company who supplies the meals. I’m more shocked the school doesn’t have a kitchen I thought all schools did. If I was the head at that school I would change who supplies the food

  22. This is awful! How could they be so under prepared? I hope my boys school is better as he starts this week.
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  23. This is disastrous, how can they get this so wrong? In the olden days most kids had school dinners and the schools coped really well why not now??
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  24. Oh that is awful. Feel so sorry for the pupils and the staff. Chester’s School also have no kitchen so their meals are brought in. From what I have heard, it has run really smoothly there. Hope Isaac’s School sorts the problem soon.
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