Posh restauranteurs advise the Government to ban lunchboxes to make school dinners cost effective

12 July 2013

lettuce sandwichIt’s not enough that the Government wants to fiddle in every aspect of your life, now they are taking the nanny state a bit far by suggesting parents are incapable of feeding their own children properly, with a new report “urging” headteachers to ban lunchboxes in schools.

This mindnumbingly idiotic exciting new report was commissioned by the Government from two restaurateurs, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent whose report, the School Food Plan, found that just 43% of pupils currently have school dinners. Clearly this is not because school dinners are crap, tiny or expensive (or all three) but is because parents must want to feed their children poorly. According to the report just 1% of lunchboxes meet the nutritional standards that apply to school dinners.

But the worrying thrust of the report is that lunchboxes should be banned, or if not banned, should become such a figure of fun and derision that children wouldn’t dare bring a lunchbox in “the best schools, the schools with good food, find ways of making packed lunches the least exciting option," said Mr Dimbleby, who went to a private boarding school.

“If packed lunches were banned, schools would be able to provide better meals at a cheaper price, and this would help boost children's performance” he added.

And this seems to be the thrust behind the report- because school meals only become financially viable at just over 50% take up, it seems the authors have been looking for reasons why children should be forced into eating school dinners in order to make the Department of Education's books balance, including advocating banning lunchboxes altogether – when asked for advice by free schools on how to implement an effective school meals system, the report authors are proud to boast that they “ always advised them to ban packed lunches from the start”.

Of course, none of this high faluting talk actually deals with real people and their children. The report itself states that “the strongest single factor behind low take-up is price”, and with the average school meal costing around £2 per child per day (£390 a year, for each child) compared with a 46p packed lunch (figures from the School Food Plan report) it is unsurprising that many parents choose, or are forced, to send their children with packed lunches instead.

The Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman said: "While encouraging all students to eat a nutritious hot lunch is the right aim, it is not always feasible. Many hardworking families on relatively low incomes give their children packed lunches because they don't qualify for free school meals and the cost of a school dinner would be prohibitive."

The report did recommend that “free school meals should be extended to all primary school children, starting with the most deprived areas” in order to help get people hooked- after all once pupils start having school dinners they often continue, even if they have to pay (according to the report), the Government have so far not agreed to implement this recommendation.

For a report that goes on to talk about the number of (particularly teenage) children going without any kind of lunch, and the growing need for breakfast clubs for parents who cannot afford to give their children breakfast, is forcing an additional cost on parents really the best idea?

While some lunchboxes may indeed still be an eighties haven of Monster Munch and Blue Ribands,  school policies and education can improve the quality of lunchboxes, and in many cases, already have. And what about children with special diets, or particular anxieties around foods- are these jolly restauranteurs expecting small primary schools to be able to cope with providing cross-contamination free, nutritionally balanced meals for all these children too?

Of course, the fact that Henry Dimbleby (son of David) went on holiday to Morocco, staying with a certain Education Secretary and his wife last year has probably had no bearing on the impartiality of this report. At all.

11 comments

  • Big M.
    “If packed lunches were banned, schools would be able to provide better meals at a cheaper price, and this would help boost children’s performance” I take it that this is to do with the correlation between performance is school and diet? Correlation is not causation. If you give your kids shit food constantly then you're a bad parent at worst, naive and stupid at best. In which case you probably don't care that much about them doing their homework properly, attending school regularly, getting exercise, getting a good nights sleep or giving them educational toys and game to play. Maybe that is the issue with a kids performance rather than them having a dairylea dunker for fucking lunch.
  • haggis
    @ Big Mozzer Ever noticed a dip in your afternoon performance at work if you've had a massive BK for lunch? Of course nutrition makes a difference. That said this is the most fuckwitted idea I've hard today so far. I'm sure the posh cunts in parliament can spout out something more nonsensical before days end though.
  • shiftynifty
    Shit ageist article yesterday...But today that is one of the best articles BW has produced...Once again these mad fuckers and they are... push for a profit first agenda
  • PJH
    "are these jolly restauranteurs expecting small primary schools to be able to cope with providing cross-contamination free, nutritionally balanced meals for all these children too?" No, they'll simply serve up bland vegetables and hummus that has been killed via the halal method and has been nowhere near nuts (pea or otherwise) and force everyone to eat that. Keeps the nut-allergists, vegans, muslims and jews happy. Naturally at the expense of more normal people who'd probably prefer peanut-buttered pork that was humanely killed.
  • badger
    Sam - it's "restaurateurs" not "restauranteurs", dickbreath.
  • Big M.
    @ haggis There's a difference between 'nutrition' and 'over- eating'. You eat too much anything at lunch you're in for a shit PM.
  • Mustapha S.
    "Many hardworking families on relatively low incomes".... Surely if they were that hard working, they'd be on a decent wage? Should just say 'Many families on relatively...'
  • Chewbie
    Bad man ting.Flex wid da erb.
  • A. J.
    Is this another case of the pie tax absurd if you ask me! why should we be made to pay for school dinners my child hates school dinners because they are crap!!!!
  • Captain.Cretin
    As much as I hate to agree with ANYTHING in this report - my experience in childcare shows that many parents DO NOT know how to feed their children, I see lunch boxes for a 3 y/o with enough food for a large adult, and others with a single slice of bread and butter (substitute), a couple of bags of crisps and a large chocolate bar. The WORST I have seen was a child whose lunch box always contained a chocolate spread sandwich, a chocolate milkshake, a chocolate cake, a chocolate mouse and a bar of chocolate; his parents were mystified as to why he stopped growing aged 7. Eventually they visited a doctor and by age 14 he was on growth hormones to make up for the years of crap food. "Surely if they were that hard working, they’d be on a decent wage?", Childcare is minimum wage; AND salaried, because parents regularly turn up late, but the government wont give us any overtime pay. We regularly have to wait 15-20 minutes for a late parent, and my personal worst was 3 hours - by rights I should have handed the child over to Social Services after 1/2 hour, but they are even worse than many of the parents!!!
  • Dr B.
    Stop the kids having packed lunches and then give the catering contract to G4S or Serco or any other evil organisation that senior politicians have shares in. Everyone's happy.

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