The great lunchbox debate

jamie1School dinners have become a massive talking point in the UK over recent years after popular TV chef Jamie Oliver launched a radical crusade to ban junk from all school kitchens.

It caused a massive furore.
Jamie spoke passionately about fresh, nutritious foods for our next generation. He visited schools to teach the children themselves the truth about the junk they were craving, he lobbied the government and he shouted as loud as he could to bring about a revolution.

He met children whose lunchbox consisted of two bags of crisps and a Mars Bar. He tried to turn around teens who only wanted chips with everything and he spoke of making it compulsary for all youngersters to be taught about how to prepare food and good eating habits.

He launched a manifesto which aimed to empower headteachers to make their school a junk free zone, invest in dinner ladies with proper training and he also wanted a long-term public campaign “to get people back on to a proper diet and empower/persuade (and possibly scare, if needed) the public to make better choices”.

The jovial chef with two young girls of his own, was outspoken, totally determined and inspiring.

But it divided parents.
While some welcomed his words with open arms, others were outraged that someone should be telling their children what they could and could not eat.
In some episodes of the TV show which accompanied the campaign, parents were seen handing their youngsters bags of fish and chips from the local chippy through the school gates at lunchtime because they could no longer obtain chips in school.

As a result of the campaign, the government pledged to make school dinners healthier -but at a cost. Uptake of the new improved school dinners has dropped significantly.

My 6-year-old son has school dinners and they are good healthy meals and a reasonable price. He enjoys the likes of roast dinners, bolognese or pasta bakes.
He loves them. It is what he is used to at home as I am trying to bring him up to understand good nutrition and why he needs to keep a balanced diet and that he can have treats, but he must eat the ‘good stuff’ first.

He helps me in the kitchen, he knows what a pepper and a mango is and we’ve made dinner time a family affair.
Hopefully, when he hits his teens and then moves into adulthood, he will be equipped with the knowledge to make the right choices for himself.

So I was really interested to read a debate about whether certain foods should be banned from your child’s school lunchbox over at the Times’ SchoolGate blog.

A mum is upset because she was ‘named and shamed’ by her child’s teacher for sending her son to school with chocolate spread sandwiches and they are asking the question should teachers get involved in what you pack for their lunch every day or have we gone healthy eating mad and this is just “teachers just flexing their muscles and showing us that in school, they’re the boss!”

I would be really interested to hear your views.

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82 Responses to The great lunchbox debate

  1. I think that it is appalling that a mother should be shamed in that way… I run a pre-school, and we have a lunch club each day. The children bring in their own lunch boxes. Sometimes the food is questionable… most is brilliant. We would never say to a parent that the food wasn't good enough. There are different ways of doing this… parent workshops, asking parents to come in and help for lunch club. There is no greater lesson than seeing it for yourself…However, if a child was given consistent rubbish and was obviously not thriving, then we would step in. Make suggestions. Offer to make sandwiches at school. I know one mother who is Brilliant. But all her autistic boys would eat were chocolate spread sandwiches! They now eat anything but were having a hard time eating anything back then. She would have felt so ashamed to have been told she was wrong… when she wasn't.I have gone on and on! Will stop now. Great post!

  2. I think that it is appalling that a mother should be shamed in that way… I run a pre-school, and we have a lunch club each day. The children bring in their own lunch boxes. Sometimes the food is questionable… most is brilliant. We would never say to a parent that the food wasn't good enough. There are different ways of doing this… parent workshops, asking parents to come in and help for lunch club. There is no greater lesson than seeing it for yourself…However, if a child was given consistent rubbish and was obviously not thriving, then we would step in. Make suggestions. Offer to make sandwiches at school. I know one mother who is Brilliant. But all her autistic boys would eat were chocolate spread sandwiches! They now eat anything but were having a hard time eating anything back then. She would have felt so ashamed to have been told she was wrong… when she wasn't.I have gone on and on! Will stop now. Great post!

  3. Potty Mummy says:

    That's an interesting one Tara. I read the story and made this comment in Schoolgate:'I think I'm coming at this from a different angle from a lot of the commenters above. It isn't made clear above whether the sandwich was just chocolate spread, or nutella. I have two sons with nut allergy. If they eat peanuts or tree nuts (for which read any nut worth having) it means an adrenalin shot and a trip to hospital – at the least. Whilst they know that they can't eat nuts in their pure form, (they are aged 3 and 5 years), I'm not sure what they would do if offered a chocolate sandwich with no adult there to check the contents. Consequently, I am completely behind the school on this one.If, however, it was plain chocolate spread – well, it's the parent's choice I guess.' One other thing though; I can't actually understand a parent who would give their child that sandwich as part of their lunch box. The mum in question comments that it was the child's birthday (what's wrong with a slice of cake?) and that the boy was sick of his normal filling. Hello? Find some more – it's not that difficult. Having said that, well, this is a free country… If she wants to set up bad eating habits now, none of my business…

  4. Potty Mummy says:

    That's an interesting one Tara. I read the story and made this comment in Schoolgate:'I think I'm coming at this from a different angle from a lot of the commenters above. It isn't made clear above whether the sandwich was just chocolate spread, or nutella. I have two sons with nut allergy. If they eat peanuts or tree nuts (for which read any nut worth having) it means an adrenalin shot and a trip to hospital – at the least. Whilst they know that they can't eat nuts in their pure form, (they are aged 3 and 5 years), I'm not sure what they would do if offered a chocolate sandwich with no adult there to check the contents. Consequently, I am completely behind the school on this one.If, however, it was plain chocolate spread – well, it's the parent's choice I guess.' One other thing though; I can't actually understand a parent who would give their child that sandwich as part of their lunch box. The mum in question comments that it was the child's birthday (what's wrong with a slice of cake?) and that the boy was sick of his normal filling. Hello? Find some more – it's not that difficult. Having said that, well, this is a free country… If she wants to set up bad eating habits now, none of my business…

  5. Avlor says:

    Oh, Tara what did you start? I can't write a short comment on this!Our schools here in my town (eastern South Dakota – USA) try to balance lunches. But they totally miss it in the meat department (hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, breaded chicken patties, fish sticks – those and more are repeated every month. UGH.) and drinks (what kid would choose regular milk when there's strawberry or chocolate super sugared varieties and no juice or water). I've been packing my son's lunch of late to get away from the super processed meats and I know then WHAT he eats too. I've been trying to follow the general Japanese bento ideas if a good amount of carbs and protien, mandatory veggies, a helping of fruit and an optional SMALL treat if fruit isn't real sweet. I think he's had more energy and I'm anxious to talk with his teacher at conferences. Many of the kids in his class are diagnosed ADHD – but I truely believe that a good portion of it is diet. I have met people where it's not – but there are plenty of cases where diet can help.Today I packed snap peas and my son declared he doesn't like them. So I told him I packed them because I love him. (He finishes any uneaten lunch items at home as a snack – so they can't disappear.)But I digress…If the chocolate spread is the only thing on the sandwich – good lord what are those parents thinking? Yes nutella is nummy. But I'd be happy to be a non teacher shaming them publicly. I'm not a fan of the government stepping in – but egads what can be done for kids who aren't getting nutritious food?This subject gets me seriously worked up. I'll step off my soap box before I get more riled up…

  6. Kat says:

    My daughter (new to British schools) would never eat what is on the menu for school dinners, so I pack her lunch. Peanut butter sandwich, banana, yogurt raisins, and pretzels with cheese dipping sauce. It isn't the most healthy lunch, but it gets her by. The school she attends strictly frowns upon sweets and crisps being in their lunches I am told.

  7. Avlor says:

    Oh, Tara what did you start? I can't write a short comment on this!Our schools here in my town (eastern South Dakota – USA) try to balance lunches. But they totally miss it in the meat department (hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, breaded chicken patties, fish sticks – those and more are repeated every month. UGH.) and drinks (what kid would choose regular milk when there's strawberry or chocolate super sugared varieties and no juice or water). I've been packing my son's lunch of late to get away from the super processed meats and I know then WHAT he eats too. I've been trying to follow the general Japanese bento ideas if a good amount of carbs and protien, mandatory veggies, a helping of fruit and an optional SMALL treat if fruit isn't real sweet. I think he's had more energy and I'm anxious to talk with his teacher at conferences. Many of the kids in his class are diagnosed ADHD – but I truely believe that a good portion of it is diet. I have met people where it's not – but there are plenty of cases where diet can help.Today I packed snap peas and my son declared he doesn't like them. So I told him I packed them because I love him. (He finishes any uneaten lunch items at home as a snack – so they can't disappear.)But I digress…If the chocolate spread is the only thing on the sandwich – good lord what are those parents thinking? Yes nutella is nummy. But I'd be happy to be a non teacher shaming them publicly. I'm not a fan of the government stepping in – but egads what can be done for kids who aren't getting nutritious food?This subject gets me seriously worked up. I'll step off my soap box before I get more riled up…

  8. Kat says:

    My daughter (new to British schools) would never eat what is on the menu for school dinners, so I pack her lunch. Peanut butter sandwich, banana, yogurt raisins, and pretzels with cheese dipping sauce. It isn't the most healthy lunch, but it gets her by. The school she attends strictly frowns upon sweets and crisps being in their lunches I am told.

  9. Avlor says:

    After reading what ladybird said – having a lunch club is great. Probably better than shaming. Gentleness goes a long way. But what can be done for parents who can't come to help at a lunch club?

  10. Avlor says:

    After reading what ladybird said – having a lunch club is great. Probably better than shaming. Gentleness goes a long way. But what can be done for parents who can't come to help at a lunch club?

  11. My son was in right mood earlier this week because I wouldn't let him put a Curly Wurly left over from his Christmas selection box in his lunch bag. "Why do I always have to be the odd one out? Everyone else is allowed chocolate" he moaned. The mind boggles?

  12. My son was in right mood earlier this week because I wouldn't let him put a Curly Wurly left over from his Christmas selection box in his lunch bag. "Why do I always have to be the odd one out? Everyone else is allowed chocolate" he moaned. The mind boggles?

  13. More than a Mother says:

    Hmm. Tricky one. My children aren't old enough to need packed lunches yet, but in a few years time I will of course be sending them off to school with carrot batons and alfalfa sandwiches… It's easy to latch onto an isolated incident and make assumptions; in general my children have very healthy snacks, however when I'm absolutely at the end of my tether, far from home with the hours till bed-time stretching interminably ahead of me, I have been known to trickle-feed all three of them in turn with Smarties, eking it out till we get safely back inside the car and I can let the screamathon continue. Chocolate sandwiches every day? Shocking parenting. Chocolate sandwiches on a day when you just cant face another battle, you've been up half the night with the baby, and you've just realised your trousers are on back to front? Totally understandable.

  14. Heinous says:

    I think it's good for a school to only offer healthy choices. It promotes a lifestyle that hopefully will lead to a healthier generation of children. I don't think schools should disallow or question a parent's decision to send a snack though. It's a free society.

  15. Heinous says:

    I think it's good for a school to only offer healthy choices. It promotes a lifestyle that hopefully will lead to a healthier generation of children. I don't think schools should disallow or question a parent's decision to send a snack though. It's a free society.

  16. Tiffany says:

    That's all very interesting. It seems that teachers would have enough to do without wanting to police the lunch boxes.

  17. Tiffany says:

    That's all very interesting. It seems that teachers would have enough to do without wanting to police the lunch boxes.

  18. It's a difficult one – but in the end it is up to parents what they feed their children. And I'm sure there's probably a lot of competitive lunchboxing going on, with the children who eat carrot sticks and tofu for lunch going home and having biscuits and cake in the privacy of their own home.

  19. It's a difficult one – but in the end it is up to parents what they feed their children. And I'm sure there's probably a lot of competitive lunchboxing going on, with the children who eat carrot sticks and tofu for lunch going home and having biscuits and cake in the privacy of their own home.

  20. GreenJello says:

    I think schools have a responsibility to serve healthy food to children. If they are responsible for educating minds, it would stand to reason that they should also be teaching healthy choices by example.

  21. GreenJello says:

    I think schools have a responsibility to serve healthy food to children. If they are responsible for educating minds, it would stand to reason that they should also be teaching healthy choices by example.

  22. I have seen many similar debates in the states. My son has been eating school lunches a lot this year, the price was so good, I thought I can't make him lunch for that price. I would only send him lunches on days he didn't like the food. However we are changing that after I have eaten with school lunches a few times. If they cook the food it's not too bad, but they are using a lot of prepackaged junk. As far as the school policing what goes in the lunch box, I think the only reason a teacher should comment on something like that is if it is in relation to behavior. Part of the crux of this whole debate is many of our peers insistence on spoiling their kids and giving them whatever they want (chips, candy, etc) whether it is good for them or not.

  23. I have seen many similar debates in the states. My son has been eating school lunches a lot this year, the price was so good, I thought I can't make him lunch for that price. I would only send him lunches on days he didn't like the food. However we are changing that after I have eaten with school lunches a few times. If they cook the food it's not too bad, but they are using a lot of prepackaged junk. As far as the school policing what goes in the lunch box, I think the only reason a teacher should comment on something like that is if it is in relation to behavior. Part of the crux of this whole debate is many of our peers insistence on spoiling their kids and giving them whatever they want (chips, candy, etc) whether it is good for them or not.

  24. Red Rum says:

    Totally agree with More than a Mother. We all have desperate days when we make short cuts and public humiliation would be the last straw. Also, only the parent knows if the child is going through a difficult phase. I'm having a NIGHTMARE getting my 4 year old daughter to eat green veg at the moment – she used to tuck in, no probs! Am hoping that this phase will pass soon. In the meantime, I expect that people make judgements about her less than ideal diet – but it's not my fault, honest guv!!!

  25. Red Rum says:

    Totally agree with More than a Mother. We all have desperate days when we make short cuts and public humiliation would be the last straw. Also, only the parent knows if the child is going through a difficult phase. I'm having a NIGHTMARE getting my 4 year old daughter to eat green veg at the moment – she used to tuck in, no probs! Am hoping that this phase will pass soon. In the meantime, I expect that people make judgements about her less than ideal diet – but it's not my fault, honest guv!!!

  26. Turf Dad says:

    Chocolate spread sandwich? That doesn't sound so bad as long as it wasn't on Rye or something like that.I think schools that provide lunches should provide healthier meals. But it's all about the money. Here in the states a lot of the local fast food chains offer schools incredible deals for the opportunity to get the kids addicted to their poison. (Wow! That sounded pretty heavy.)Schools shouldn't be going through lunch boxes. I don't blame the chocolate spread sandwich mom for being a little tweeked.

  27. Turf Dad says:

    Chocolate spread sandwich? That doesn't sound so bad as long as it wasn't on Rye or something like that.I think schools that provide lunches should provide healthier meals. But it's all about the money. Here in the states a lot of the local fast food chains offer schools incredible deals for the opportunity to get the kids addicted to their poison. (Wow! That sounded pretty heavy.)Schools shouldn't be going through lunch boxes. I don't blame the chocolate spread sandwich mom for being a little tweeked.

  28. Jaci says:

    I'm not sure how it works in Britian, but here in the US kids have the option of either buying a school lunch or packing. I'm all for making the school lunches healthier–cause I remember eating fries, tater tots, and chicken patties almost constantly through-out high school. A little salad would have been great, you know?But if a kid has a lunch box full of food that he drug from home, no way should a teacher be nibbing in it. So what if there is a peanut butter sandwhich in there, or a piece of toast with chocolate frosting smeared on it? It's one lunch, and the kid is only in school for what–6 hours?!? He'll survive.If the school feels like a kid is showing up with a lunchbox full of junk each and everyday, then why not suggest the parents let him buy a school lunch, or offer to give him a reduced cost lunch if money is a problem.Too many teachers / principals just don't think.

  29. Jaci says:

    I'm not sure how it works in Britian, but here in the US kids have the option of either buying a school lunch or packing. I'm all for making the school lunches healthier–cause I remember eating fries, tater tots, and chicken patties almost constantly through-out high school. A little salad would have been great, you know?But if a kid has a lunch box full of food that he drug from home, no way should a teacher be nibbing in it. So what if there is a peanut butter sandwhich in there, or a piece of toast with chocolate frosting smeared on it? It's one lunch, and the kid is only in school for what–6 hours?!? He'll survive.If the school feels like a kid is showing up with a lunchbox full of junk each and everyday, then why not suggest the parents let him buy a school lunch, or offer to give him a reduced cost lunch if money is a problem.Too many teachers / principals just don't think.

  30. Not really knowing the full background on the chocolate spread thing, I would say if it is an occasional treat the teacher should shut up. If it is chronic lunch fare AND the teacher is noticing the effects of it such as hyperactivity or lethargy, trouble concentrating, etc in the child she has a right to address to detrimental affects to learning.My children participated in cooking right from the time they could sit at the kitchen table. Now all young adults they prepare everything from scratch. Nothing processed and they don't have taste for junk food. My son, actually, is an enthusiastic cook.As for schools, we actually have a problem sending healthy lunches to school with the Little Lion because of all the allergy bans. The schools actually want processed pre-packaged crap, so that they can read the labels! We ignore that and send healthy leftovers (adhering to allergy warnings), but the Little Lion has been publicly chastized for taking in home baked cookies!

  31. Not really knowing the full background on the chocolate spread thing, I would say if it is an occasional treat the teacher should shut up. If it is chronic lunch fare AND the teacher is noticing the effects of it such as hyperactivity or lethargy, trouble concentrating, etc in the child she has a right to address to detrimental affects to learning.My children participated in cooking right from the time they could sit at the kitchen table. Now all young adults they prepare everything from scratch. Nothing processed and they don't have taste for junk food. My son, actually, is an enthusiastic cook.As for schools, we actually have a problem sending healthy lunches to school with the Little Lion because of all the allergy bans. The schools actually want processed pre-packaged crap, so that they can read the labels! We ignore that and send healthy leftovers (adhering to allergy warnings), but the Little Lion has been publicly chastized for taking in home baked cookies!

  32. Working mum says:

    Where to begin? As a parent and a teacher I agree with healthy eating policies in schools. They enable children to learn about healthy eating without any arguments about who has what. It does have to be clearly communicated to parents though, and parents have to stick to it.We have compulsory school lunches at my school (which my daughter attends) which are varied and healthy and accompanied by only water to drink. Lessons and assemblies inform pupils about good choices and combinations. My daughter also takes a snack bag in which she is allowed a bottle of water, a carton of juice and then two of: yoghurt, cheese and fruit (fresh or dried). There is no argument from her about what she takes as she knows the rules. However, some parents have asked the teacher "Can they have X?" trying to push the boundaries into fruit based snacks (with added sugar) and crackers (with added salt). What's so difficult about a variety of fruit, cheese and yoghurts?

  33. Working mum says:

    Where to begin? As a parent and a teacher I agree with healthy eating policies in schools. They enable children to learn about healthy eating without any arguments about who has what. It does have to be clearly communicated to parents though, and parents have to stick to it.We have compulsory school lunches at my school (which my daughter attends) which are varied and healthy and accompanied by only water to drink. Lessons and assemblies inform pupils about good choices and combinations. My daughter also takes a snack bag in which she is allowed a bottle of water, a carton of juice and then two of: yoghurt, cheese and fruit (fresh or dried). There is no argument from her about what she takes as she knows the rules. However, some parents have asked the teacher "Can they have X?" trying to push the boundaries into fruit based snacks (with added sugar) and crackers (with added salt). What's so difficult about a variety of fruit, cheese and yoghurts?

  34. Expat mum says:

    Compulsory school meals would be fab – then we wouldn't have so many picky kids. I don't think we were allowed to bring packed lunches when I was little, but that was a long time ago.Shaming a parent for an unhealthy meal choice is ridiculous. Are the teachers going to have to come home after school to monitor the TV time the kids have? What about children who aren't dressed appropriately either for the weather or the classroom? Why not send a memo home with suggestions for "variations" on the packed lunch. As a mother who tries to do the healthy packed lunch, I would still welcome ideas for different foods, and nobody would feel offended.

  35. Expat mum says:

    Compulsory school meals would be fab – then we wouldn't have so many picky kids. I don't think we were allowed to bring packed lunches when I was little, but that was a long time ago.Shaming a parent for an unhealthy meal choice is ridiculous. Are the teachers going to have to come home after school to monitor the TV time the kids have? What about children who aren't dressed appropriately either for the weather or the classroom? Why not send a memo home with suggestions for "variations" on the packed lunch. As a mother who tries to do the healthy packed lunch, I would still welcome ideas for different foods, and nobody would feel offended.

  36. I'm not really adding to this debate like I should, but wanted to say that my husband brought home some little Nutella samples from a hotel he'd been at for a business trip yesterday. My children thought Christmas had come early. I went upstairs this morning to sort out laundry and my 3 year old was very quiet. I went downstairs to find him a) stark naked b) covered in nutella from head to toe c) had pushed a chair up to the cupboard to reach the nutella d) had spreada nutella all over the carpet.I had to give him a sponge bath and send him on his way to pre-school. In his lunchbox he had a ham and cheese sandwich, a tub of salad (made of carrot and pepper sticks, baby tomatoes and cucumber), a yogurt and a fruit stick. I probably looked like the perfect mother to his teachers, but had they checked behind his ears they would have found the traces of nutella lurking and I'd have been outed as a bad mother.

  37. I'm not really adding to this debate like I should, but wanted to say that my husband brought home some little Nutella samples from a hotel he'd been at for a business trip yesterday. My children thought Christmas had come early. I went upstairs this morning to sort out laundry and my 3 year old was very quiet. I went downstairs to find him a) stark naked b) covered in nutella from head to toe c) had pushed a chair up to the cupboard to reach the nutella d) had spreada nutella all over the carpet.I had to give him a sponge bath and send him on his way to pre-school. In his lunchbox he had a ham and cheese sandwich, a tub of salad (made of carrot and pepper sticks, baby tomatoes and cucumber), a yogurt and a fruit stick. I probably looked like the perfect mother to his teachers, but had they checked behind his ears they would have found the traces of nutella lurking and I'd have been outed as a bad mother.

  38. Adrenalynn says:

    I have you in my feed reader, so I haven't been here for a while- love your header! I was so shocked when I saw that show on TV here in Norway, because our schools would NEVER have fed kids like that! We don't get meals at schools here, but it's always up for debate every time we have an election coming up. But there are always campaigns going to help parents choose the right kinds of food for their children's lunches. We are constantly being educated on what will help them perform better in school and stay healthy. We also have a lot of focus on PE from a young age. Schools also recently startet giving out fruit at lunchtime, which I think is so important!

  39. Adrenalynn says:

    I have you in my feed reader, so I haven't been here for a while- love your header! I was so shocked when I saw that show on TV here in Norway, because our schools would NEVER have fed kids like that! We don't get meals at schools here, but it's always up for debate every time we have an election coming up. But there are always campaigns going to help parents choose the right kinds of food for their children's lunches. We are constantly being educated on what will help them perform better in school and stay healthy. We also have a lot of focus on PE from a young age. Schools also recently startet giving out fruit at lunchtime, which I think is so important!

  40. Tracy says:

    I pack my incredibly picky, very underweight son a turkey or ham sandwich on whole wheat most days – and most days it comes back with maybe one or two nibbles taken out of it (He appears to live off that, 3 bites of fruit and a yogurt drink). If I thought he'd eat a chocolate sandwich, I'd be very tempted to give him one often! As it is, I do send a chicken wrap Lunchable once a week – I feel slightly shamed by this, but also glad to know he's eating something.I think that the schools should do all they can to promote healthy eating, but I'm still torn as to where to draw the line. I know some mothers who'd be horrified at what I consider an acceptable lunch.

  41. Tracy says:

    I pack my incredibly picky, very underweight son a turkey or ham sandwich on whole wheat most days – and most days it comes back with maybe one or two nibbles taken out of it (He appears to live off that, 3 bites of fruit and a yogurt drink). If I thought he'd eat a chocolate sandwich, I'd be very tempted to give him one often! As it is, I do send a chicken wrap Lunchable once a week – I feel slightly shamed by this, but also glad to know he's eating something.I think that the schools should do all they can to promote healthy eating, but I'm still torn as to where to draw the line. I know some mothers who'd be horrified at what I consider an acceptable lunch.

  42. TARA says:

    I was going to poke my head in and reply to your comments, but really you have all been fantastic and I think the comments have been excellent. All of them.I'm so pleased to see it's something everyone is mindful of and that we are all human at the end of the day!All children are different – and by heavens don't we know it! – and a blanket 'you must do this and that' just isn't going to work.So hands up who packed a chocolate muffin in their son's lunchbox last night (then ate it before he had the chance to sniff it because I fancied something with my cup of tea!)

  43. TARA says:

    I was going to poke my head in and reply to your comments, but really you have all been fantastic and I think the comments have been excellent. All of them.I'm so pleased to see it's something everyone is mindful of and that we are all human at the end of the day!All children are different – and by heavens don't we know it! – and a blanket 'you must do this and that' just isn't going to work.So hands up who packed a chocolate muffin in their son's lunchbox last night (then ate it before he had the chance to sniff it because I fancied something with my cup of tea!)

  44. kellyi says:

    Hello The school my boys go to has a strict lunch box policy with no hot meal alternative. However, when I helped out recently I was gob smacked at the masses of treats in the staff room. Boxes of chocolates, sweets and biscuits. They also had a fridge to keep their food cool and a microwave and hob. The kids have to put their lunch boxes on a rack in the corridor, which means freezing cold food in the winter and soggy warm stuff in the summer. "Lead by example" springs to mind.

  45. kellyi says:

    Hello The school my boys go to has a strict lunch box policy with no hot meal alternative. However, when I helped out recently I was gob smacked at the masses of treats in the staff room. Boxes of chocolates, sweets and biscuits. They also had a fridge to keep their food cool and a microwave and hob. The kids have to put their lunch boxes on a rack in the corridor, which means freezing cold food in the winter and soggy warm stuff in the summer. "Lead by example" springs to mind.

  46. Vodka Mom says:

    I don't really know where to begin, either. As a teacher, I would NEVER NEVER try to tell a parent how to parent a child. HOWEVER, as a parent of an overweight child, I am always looking for ways to educate and help my own son. On another hand altogether, my son is active,eats well, eats a LOT, but he is a BIG boy and the dr says he will be a big MAN. SHE tells me not to worry. I love Jamie Oliver, and am fascinated by this whole thing.

  47. Vodka Mom says:

    I don't really know where to begin, either. As a teacher, I would NEVER NEVER try to tell a parent how to parent a child. HOWEVER, as a parent of an overweight child, I am always looking for ways to educate and help my own son. On another hand altogether, my son is active,eats well, eats a LOT, but he is a BIG boy and the dr says he will be a big MAN. SHE tells me not to worry. I love Jamie Oliver, and am fascinated by this whole thing.

  48. Coding Mamma (Tasha) says:

    My sister works in a family centre and apparently there are a lot of children who bring chocolate spread sandwiches every day. I think they offer parenting classes, including healthy eating. Don't think the take-up's brilliant, though. I think what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners was brilliant, actually, though they're still not brilliant. But it is difficult to police the lunchboxes. I know that whenever my sister has worked somewhere where a child has a serious allergy (e.g. nuts), then that ingredient is always banned completely, because children will swap food.Difficult one.

  49. Coding Mamma (Tasha) says:

    My sister works in a family centre and apparently there are a lot of children who bring chocolate spread sandwiches every day. I think they offer parenting classes, including healthy eating. Don't think the take-up's brilliant, though. I think what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners was brilliant, actually, though they're still not brilliant. But it is difficult to police the lunchboxes. I know that whenever my sister has worked somewhere where a child has a serious allergy (e.g. nuts), then that ingredient is always banned completely, because children will swap food.Difficult one.

  50. Iota says:

    Which is worse, a chocolate spread sandwich made on wholewheat bread with the chocolate spread very thin, or one of those pre-packed 'lunch bite' type products (a few salty crackers and some over-processed cheese to dip them into)?I think naming and shaming is dreadful. If the teacher felt strongly, she/he should have spoken to the parent one to one. And as others have said, you just don't know the story behind this. There really are worse things than a chocolate spread sandwich.If I start on about children's diets where I am in the Midwest (where pizza is the healthy option, and kids' food is so over-colored that it glows), I'll never stop typing, so I'd better leave it there. Oddly enough, I think we have improved our kids' eating habits since moving here, simply because we have to swim harder against the tide.

  51. Iota says:

    Which is worse, a chocolate spread sandwich made on wholewheat bread with the chocolate spread very thin, or one of those pre-packed 'lunch bite' type products (a few salty crackers and some over-processed cheese to dip them into)?I think naming and shaming is dreadful. If the teacher felt strongly, she/he should have spoken to the parent one to one. And as others have said, you just don't know the story behind this. There really are worse things than a chocolate spread sandwich.If I start on about children's diets where I am in the Midwest (where pizza is the healthy option, and kids' food is so over-colored that it glows), I'll never stop typing, so I'd better leave it there. Oddly enough, I think we have improved our kids' eating habits since moving here, simply because we have to swim harder against the tide.

  52. Mrs. C. says:

    At our school last year a note went home after the first couple of weeks, letting parents know about some guidelines for the lunch room. Apparently enough children were making "poor lunch choices" that the principal had to step in and lay down the law.No pop, no huge bags of chips, and no huge bags of candy. It seemed that some students were bringing either a can or 20-oz soda, a much larger than single serving bag of chips, and a sackful of candy and calling it lunch. Or sharing it around which is also not allowed due to food allergy or restricted diet issues. So the notice said that anyone bringing such items would have them confiscated and the parent/guardian would have to come to the office to get the food items back. Would this be the same parent or guardian who allowed said food items to be packed IN the lunch bag in the FIRST PLACE?!It was the first time in as long as I've been at that school that such a notice was needed.

  53. Mrs. C. says:

    At our school last year a note went home after the first couple of weeks, letting parents know about some guidelines for the lunch room. Apparently enough children were making "poor lunch choices" that the principal had to step in and lay down the law.No pop, no huge bags of chips, and no huge bags of candy. It seemed that some students were bringing either a can or 20-oz soda, a much larger than single serving bag of chips, and a sackful of candy and calling it lunch. Or sharing it around which is also not allowed due to food allergy or restricted diet issues. So the notice said that anyone bringing such items would have them confiscated and the parent/guardian would have to come to the office to get the food items back. Would this be the same parent or guardian who allowed said food items to be packed IN the lunch bag in the FIRST PLACE?!It was the first time in as long as I've been at that school that such a notice was needed.

  54. Very interesting Tara! Just posted this on the times thing…My daughter is 4 (nearly 5) and has chosen to have packed lunches. I'd prefer her to have school meals but she worries she won't finish them in time (she is a slow eater). I try and strike a balance between healthy and treats. I give her pitta, hummus, cucumber, grapes, a kit kat, a smoothie and an apple one day. Marmite sandwich a few crisps (small handful) a biscuit, cucumber, piece of fruit, yogurt. But I do give her a biscuit or chocolate every day (shock horror, I should be locked up, I know) and I DON@T feel guilty about it. She eats a balanced diet, always has a good few portions of fruit and veg a day. I don't want to give her food issues at 4. She already says, 'I don;t want to eat too much or I will get a fat tummy'. I am not the one giving her this message. I worry she doesn't eat enough as she is slim, since she has started having packed lunches she is eating even less at lunch. I worry she is not getting enough calories each day as we are giving her such a healthy diet – pasta, jacket potatoes, meat and three veg followed by fruit for pudding etc etc. The majority of parents want to do the best for their children, a small minority who don't care feed their children on a diet of crisps for breakfast and chips for tea.But they are the parents who won't listen anyway. Banning stuff like chocolate spread is far fetched. As is naming and shaming. I get the nuts thing, we have that at our school too. But I would be fuming if I was sent a letter about my childs nutrition. Everything in moderation…Let them be children and enjoy some of the treats in life too! If they are overweight it's a problem, if not then leave us alone!

  55. Very interesting Tara! Just posted this on the times thing…My daughter is 4 (nearly 5) and has chosen to have packed lunches. I'd prefer her to have school meals but she worries she won't finish them in time (she is a slow eater). I try and strike a balance between healthy and treats. I give her pitta, hummus, cucumber, grapes, a kit kat, a smoothie and an apple one day. Marmite sandwich a few crisps (small handful) a biscuit, cucumber, piece of fruit, yogurt. But I do give her a biscuit or chocolate every day (shock horror, I should be locked up, I know) and I DON@T feel guilty about it. She eats a balanced diet, always has a good few portions of fruit and veg a day. I don't want to give her food issues at 4. She already says, 'I don;t want to eat too much or I will get a fat tummy'. I am not the one giving her this message. I worry she doesn't eat enough as she is slim, since she has started having packed lunches she is eating even less at lunch. I worry she is not getting enough calories each day as we are giving her such a healthy diet – pasta, jacket potatoes, meat and three veg followed by fruit for pudding etc etc. The majority of parents want to do the best for their children, a small minority who don't care feed their children on a diet of crisps for breakfast and chips for tea.But they are the parents who won't listen anyway. Banning stuff like chocolate spread is far fetched. As is naming and shaming. I get the nuts thing, we have that at our school too. But I would be fuming if I was sent a letter about my childs nutrition. Everything in moderation…Let them be children and enjoy some of the treats in life too! If they are overweight it's a problem, if not then leave us alone!

  56. ps – i think Jamie did a great job getting rid of turkey twizzlers and sausages that are like 2% meat. That is low quality food that our school children were eating day in day out with chips. I wouldn't want my daughter to be eating that. A healthy diet is important but a few smarties here and there won't do any harm. It almost feels like now if you give them chocolate or crisps it is like pointing a loaded gun at them. I feel we all have to live a little and enjoy life and let our kids enjoy life and get everything into perspective…sorry, Big long message!

  57. ps – i think Jamie did a great job getting rid of turkey twizzlers and sausages that are like 2% meat. That is low quality food that our school children were eating day in day out with chips. I wouldn't want my daughter to be eating that. A healthy diet is important but a few smarties here and there won't do any harm. It almost feels like now if you give them chocolate or crisps it is like pointing a loaded gun at them. I feel we all have to live a little and enjoy life and let our kids enjoy life and get everything into perspective…sorry, Big long message!

  58. Elsie Button says:

    it's funny, when i was at primary school i always felt like the odd one out, with my homemade lentil soup in a flask and homemade wholemeal bread to go with it, whilst other kids would have coffee (!!!) in their flasks and wagon wheels and jam sandwiche etc. My mum is an amazing cook and always gave us proper homecooked food, but as soon as i went to secondary school, where there was a chip van and tuck shop, i rebelled and spent all my pocket money secretly buying wham bars, pot noodles and chips for my lunch! my poor mum would have had an absolute fit! I think it's a really difficult one… but ultimately i guess it it the parents responsibility to provide good lunches. When i taught at a primary school i remember being shocked that a parent had the audacity to complain to the head teacher because her child was coming home having not eaten her lunches and she felt it was the school's responsibility to make sure the lunch was eaten – and this poor child's lunch usually consisted of mashed potato sandwiches!

  59. Elsie Button says:

    it's funny, when i was at primary school i always felt like the odd one out, with my homemade lentil soup in a flask and homemade wholemeal bread to go with it, whilst other kids would have coffee (!!!) in their flasks and wagon wheels and jam sandwiche etc. My mum is an amazing cook and always gave us proper homecooked food, but as soon as i went to secondary school, where there was a chip van and tuck shop, i rebelled and spent all my pocket money secretly buying wham bars, pot noodles and chips for my lunch! my poor mum would have had an absolute fit! I think it's a really difficult one… but ultimately i guess it it the parents responsibility to provide good lunches. When i taught at a primary school i remember being shocked that a parent had the audacity to complain to the head teacher because her child was coming home having not eaten her lunches and she felt it was the school's responsibility to make sure the lunch was eaten – and this poor child's lunch usually consisted of mashed potato sandwiches!

  60. Anonymous says:

    Really, what is the fuss about? If a school has rules then stick to them. Why do parents feel the need to rebel against the system? Teachers aren't trying to weild an iron fist. They have the best interest of the children at heart (well, in my experience anyway!)There are lots of children in a school, not just yours, so rules have to be made and guidelines set. I don't agree with any teacher repremanding a parent on their child's lunchbox as they don't know what the circumstances are (as shown in the comments above). But there are other ways and means of helping.Surely there is nothing more important than teaching our children that good food is vital to their future wellbeing?

  61. Anonymous says:

    Really, what is the fuss about? If a school has rules then stick to them. Why do parents feel the need to rebel against the system? Teachers aren't trying to weild an iron fist. They have the best interest of the children at heart (well, in my experience anyway!)There are lots of children in a school, not just yours, so rules have to be made and guidelines set. I don't agree with any teacher repremanding a parent on their child's lunchbox as they don't know what the circumstances are (as shown in the comments above). But there are other ways and means of helping.Surely there is nothing more important than teaching our children that good food is vital to their future wellbeing?

  62. Nota Bene says:

    Not sure naming and shaming is a good thing. But if the patrents don't know any better, then they need to be educated…otherwise thye pass that ignorance on to their offspring. Food should be fun, interesting and exciting…given half a chance most kids seem to want it that way too

  63. Nota Bene says:

    Not sure naming and shaming is a good thing. But if the patrents don't know any better, then they need to be educated…otherwise thye pass that ignorance on to their offspring. Food should be fun, interesting and exciting…given half a chance most kids seem to want it that way too

  64. Hadriana's Trea says:

    Our daughter is eating a wider range of foods due to eating a good school lunch (dinner – it's called Oop North!). She was a great eater of everything when she was little then she got finicky. So hurrah for that!At the nursery though…it's got so PC that parents cannot bring in home made cake to celebrate birthdays. Personally I would rather eat home made cake any day rather than eat manufactured cake but I recognise that children with food allergies have to be thought about. That said…any factory made cake could contain nuts…etc. It just feels as if the world has gone mad.I think back to my parents' generation and their parents…they had to cope with rationing. Maybe we should all try a bout of that and it would be interesting to see the results….we would then have to all cook from scratch. No E numbers. No nothing. Just plain food. The problem is – is that we have messed about with food too much. One of the reasons I am tempted to go and live in France is their attitude to food. (oh gosh…I've gone off on one!)No: to naming and shaming. Absolutely not.

  65. Hadriana's Trea says:

    Our daughter is eating a wider range of foods due to eating a good school lunch (dinner – it's called Oop North!). She was a great eater of everything when she was little then she got finicky. So hurrah for that!At the nursery though…it's got so PC that parents cannot bring in home made cake to celebrate birthdays. Personally I would rather eat home made cake any day rather than eat manufactured cake but I recognise that children with food allergies have to be thought about. That said…any factory made cake could contain nuts…etc. It just feels as if the world has gone mad.I think back to my parents' generation and their parents…they had to cope with rationing. Maybe we should all try a bout of that and it would be interesting to see the results….we would then have to all cook from scratch. No E numbers. No nothing. Just plain food. The problem is – is that we have messed about with food too much. One of the reasons I am tempted to go and live in France is their attitude to food. (oh gosh…I've gone off on one!)No: to naming and shaming. Absolutely not.

  66. Lance says:

    Hi Tara,School can be rough during certain time periods in a child's life – so the should definitely not be called out for their lunch – especially publicly. It seems like a good way to set them up for failure. All that said, I am a big proponent of eating healthy. We try to promote that with our kids – yet an indulgence here or there we say us usually okay. The healthier we can (as parents) get our kids to eat, the better they are setup for success when it comes to living a healthy life.

  67. Lance says:

    Hi Tara,School can be rough during certain time periods in a child's life – so the should definitely not be called out for their lunch – especially publicly. It seems like a good way to set them up for failure. All that said, I am a big proponent of eating healthy. We try to promote that with our kids – yet an indulgence here or there we say us usually okay. The healthier we can (as parents) get our kids to eat, the better they are setup for success when it comes to living a healthy life.

  68. kirsty815 says:

    I pack Meggers school lunch, we tried buying and she wasn't really eating it because she didn't like it. She gets a turkey, cucumber, tomato, and mayo sarny, yogurt, apple juice and a cheese stick. I've also sent crackers and cheese or the infamous PB & J. When I was in school they used to have a Spud bar and they'd top it with grated cheddar cheese. Yum! I think there definitely should be healthy choices in school as well as a few goodies and snacks.

  69. kirsty815 says:

    I pack Meggers school lunch, we tried buying and she wasn't really eating it because she didn't like it. She gets a turkey, cucumber, tomato, and mayo sarny, yogurt, apple juice and a cheese stick. I've also sent crackers and cheese or the infamous PB & J. When I was in school they used to have a Spud bar and they'd top it with grated cheddar cheese. Yum! I think there definitely should be healthy choices in school as well as a few goodies and snacks.

  70. IB says:

    Hi Tara,I dig your blog! Thanks for the stop by mine. I'll be back to check you out again.IB

  71. IB says:

    Hi Tara,I dig your blog! Thanks for the stop by mine. I'll be back to check you out again.IB

  72. Mom/Mum says:

    Naming and shaming is OUTRAGEOUS in my opinion.My boys are not at school age yet, but we have daily issues of what they want to eat and what I allow them to eat. They would love every meal to consist of chocolate and toast and jam am sure. But, I like so many who have commented, am trying to raise them on a healthy diet, but also give them treats like cookies and chocolate daily when I feel they've eaten at least some fruit and vegetables. I try my best now, because I'm sure that when they are old enough to make their own food choices at school and beyond, they are bound to opt for the fries over the brocoli…

  73. Mom/Mum says:

    Naming and shaming is OUTRAGEOUS in my opinion.My boys are not at school age yet, but we have daily issues of what they want to eat and what I allow them to eat. They would love every meal to consist of chocolate and toast and jam am sure. But, I like so many who have commented, am trying to raise them on a healthy diet, but also give them treats like cookies and chocolate daily when I feel they've eaten at least some fruit and vegetables. I try my best now, because I'm sure that when they are old enough to make their own food choices at school and beyond, they are bound to opt for the fries over the brocoli…

  74. Susanna says:

    If other kids eat crap, well that's their choice I guess. When I lived in the US I used to get notes in my lunch box saying "healthy food only".I think the amazing thing is the change in school dinners and how kids love them.My daughter complains about her language clubs (which meet at lunch time) because she misses school dinners!

  75. Susanna says:

    If other kids eat crap, well that's their choice I guess. When I lived in the US I used to get notes in my lunch box saying "healthy food only".I think the amazing thing is the change in school dinners and how kids love them.My daughter complains about her language clubs (which meet at lunch time) because she misses school dinners!

  76. Maggie May says:

    we eat all organic/healthy but i don't think we can have laws that ban foods that are legal to sell.

  77. Maggie May says:

    we eat all organic/healthy but i don't think we can have laws that ban foods that are legal to sell.

  78. Kool Aid says:

    wow! What a landslide of comments! At our school system, there are guidelines of what is and is not acceptable in school lunches. They follow them in the cafeteria and expect parents who pack lunches to follow them as well. Of course, at Monkey's school, there are almost 1000 students, so it's hard to monitor what each parent sends in. I've eaten lunch with her a few times and noticed that most of the kids do OK with their choices or their packed lunch. The school menu choices always has vegetables and fresh fruit, the milk is lowfat and the dessert offered is lowfat ice cream – no cakes or cookies or anything like that, that I remember from childhood. But I still see kids eating their ice cream first. I still send in lunch with Monkey, though, because I know exactly what she's getting. She does buy lunch on pizza day, because it's pizza day, but she knows to get a fruit or veggie with it. Most of the time she complies.Oh, and the nutella story with the little samples? Getting all over the little boy? Love it! Trey brought some of those back from Germany, so I know exactly what you're talking about!

  79. Kool Aid says:

    wow! What a landslide of comments! At our school system, there are guidelines of what is and is not acceptable in school lunches. They follow them in the cafeteria and expect parents who pack lunches to follow them as well. Of course, at Monkey's school, there are almost 1000 students, so it's hard to monitor what each parent sends in. I've eaten lunch with her a few times and noticed that most of the kids do OK with their choices or their packed lunch. The school menu choices always has vegetables and fresh fruit, the milk is lowfat and the dessert offered is lowfat ice cream – no cakes or cookies or anything like that, that I remember from childhood. But I still see kids eating their ice cream first. I still send in lunch with Monkey, though, because I know exactly what she's getting. She does buy lunch on pizza day, because it's pizza day, but she knows to get a fruit or veggie with it. Most of the time she complies.Oh, and the nutella story with the little samples? Getting all over the little boy? Love it! Trey brought some of those back from Germany, so I know exactly what you're talking about!

  80. Tawny says:

    I am sick to death of all the interference that happens these days. When we were at school, the dinners were all cooked at the school and were good wholesome stuff, thanks to cuts cuts and more cuts all the kitchens were outsourced to these huge catering firms who only want profit, hence the quality of the food hit rock bottom. I have never let my daughter have school meals for this reason, by packing her lunch, I know what she is eating and how much. She takes a sandwich, usually tuna or cheese based, its what she likes, or she takes a small box of pasta. She has a fruit bar, a biscuit, a packet of crisps and a piece of fruit. This may seem a lot, but she normally saves something to eat at her childminders. The school provide boxes of fruit for the children to help them selves to and she normally has another piece of fruit from that. LOve the Nutella story too !

  81. Tawny says:

    I am sick to death of all the interference that happens these days. When we were at school, the dinners were all cooked at the school and were good wholesome stuff, thanks to cuts cuts and more cuts all the kitchens were outsourced to these huge catering firms who only want profit, hence the quality of the food hit rock bottom. I have never let my daughter have school meals for this reason, by packing her lunch, I know what she is eating and how much. She takes a sandwich, usually tuna or cheese based, its what she likes, or she takes a small box of pasta. She has a fruit bar, a biscuit, a packet of crisps and a piece of fruit. This may seem a lot, but she normally saves something to eat at her childminders. The school provide boxes of fruit for the children to help them selves to and she normally has another piece of fruit from that. LOve the Nutella story too !

  82. Barbie Girl says:

    Hi, my 15 year old son is autistic and believe me, we've had some serious battles over his lunch. I totally identify with the mum with 3 autistic boys, my son has phases where he will eat one thing obsessively and won't touch anything else. At the moment the only veggie he will eat is red peppers, but I'm lucky because he will eat most fruits instead. PS I'm loving the Nutella story too, I wish I could find a hiding place for inappropriate stuff, but as my son is nearly 6 feet tall already that's not an option any more!

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