A policy u-turn about school dinners

school dinners, nutrition, food, diet.

I have been converted; school dinners are quite a good idea after all. Pic credit below.

A few months ago I wrote this blog post about school dinners v packed lunches. It was, essentially, my personal manifesto as to why I believed that packed lunches were the way forward.

If I were a politician, I’d have to concede that I’ve made a policy u-turn. I take it all back, I’m a convert to hot dinners, as my daughter calls them.

While our kitchen we being refurbished, we temporarily arranged for Helen to have hot dinners at school. The intention was to revert back to packed lunches once we had a working kitchen again.

We’ve had a fully operational kitchen for weeks, but she has not gone back to packed lunches. She is insisting she wishes to keep having hot dinners. She enjoys it and the food seems healthier than I appreciated.

She’s been introduced to foods we hadn’t thought of at home. Can you believe that we’ve had to start buying mangoes at Helen’s request? Mangoes I tell you! This was unheard of while she had packed lunches.

Helen’s use of a knife and fork has also improved. I’ve noticed that at every meal she puts the knife and fork together at the end and sometimes even remembers to cross them over between mouthfuls.

This, to me, is momentous. My mother has exemplary table manners and I was always expected to have the same standards when growing up. If my mother had some kind of master plan, it worked. Table manners are a part of who I am and I have tried to instill this in my offspring. The influence of the dinner hall has been nothing but positive in this respect. Long may it continue!

Interestingly, however, Helen’s social group has also widened. Helen is sitting down and eating with a different group. As a result, she’s playing with a few boys and new names keep cropping up for people she’d like to have round for play dates.

All this, seemingly, because of hot dinners. I never expected so much from such a simple change and I admit my belief in the packed lunch may have been misplaced.

Has your child switched from packed lunches to hot dinners? Can you relate to my family’s experiences? Are you a hot dinners or packed lunch type pf person? Please do leave a comment below.

 

Pic credit; Image sourced from Flikr.com, reproduced under Creative Commons agreement

 

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14 Comments

  1. April 12, 2016 / 7:56 am

    That’s really interesting to know as like you I would have pushed towards packed lunches. However, my friend’s daughter has school lunches and my friend sees the menu each day – the food is good and healthy! Plus she still has another cooked meal when she gets home with the family (she’s like a stringbean). Currently my daughter has cooked lunches at nursery but it may be easier and beneficial to continue with them at school? xx #thetruthabout

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 13, 2016 / 5:14 am

      I think it all depends on your child’s position. Helen started on school lunches but went to packed lunched because there was a group of kids she wanted to make friends with but was missing hte opportunity because they always had packed lunched. Two years later, that’s not such an issue. It’s also much less hassle!

  2. April 12, 2016 / 10:09 am

    Great post. We are school lunch converts too! I still object to the sugary puddings, enticing as they sound (today’s is peach sponge and custard!) but you are right about the social aspect and the trying new things. Our school offers a ‘salad bar’ option which my daughter loves as she can pick her own lunch and she goes for this on the days when the vegetarian option doesn’t appeal.

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 13, 2016 / 5:12 am

      Ah, salad. I wish I could get the kids eating salad. it’s the one chink in our armour. Fruit and veg, pretty good, but salad, no. That said, the eldest is now eating raw peppers thanks to school dinners.

  3. April 12, 2016 / 10:43 am

    We don’t even get school dinners here in Australia, we do have tuck shops though where you can get some foods – when I was a kid it was all sausage rolls and meat pies but now I think they offer healthier options. You take your food to the playground and enjoy.

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 13, 2016 / 5:11 am

      AH yeah, we had a tuck shop at secondary school. It sold total junk. You wouldn’t get away with it in this day and age….and that’s no bad thing.

  4. April 12, 2016 / 1:06 pm

    Grace has flitted between packed lunch and school dinners most of her school life – plus she used to eat meals at a table at nursery. I taught her table manners at an early age and it has managed to stick! Now she has school dinners every day – I just like the fact that I don’t have to prepare a huge meal for her every night!! #TheTruthAbout

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 13, 2016 / 5:11 am

      Och, not having to prepare a packed lunch is frankly awesome! I too have worked on table manners since a young age but I do find it quite a chore. You have to constantly remind the kids over and over again!

  5. April 12, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    If JJ’s school dinners looked like the picture you’ve posted here I think he would be wasting away! There’s no way he’d eat a meal that looked that healthy 🙂 Having said that, maybe in the school environment he would… The thing about school dinners is that the descriptions sound good but you never get to see it for yourself, the portion sizes etc. JJ doesn’t grumble about it though so it must be OK. I have to admit the thought of having to put together a packed lunch every day would fill me with dread! It’s hard enough trying to come up with my own lunches for work!. Thanks for linking to #thetruthabout John, you always come up with some interesting topics.

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 13, 2016 / 5:09 am

      I’ll let you into a secret, that picture was taken at a US school! Even so, it seems the kids have a huge choice of fruit and veg at school. What’s more, Helen actually chooses some of the items! Glad to hear I come up with interesting subjects. Thanks for hosting #truthabout.

  6. April 13, 2016 / 10:22 am

    We converted to hot dinners at the Tubblet’s request and it was such a relief. The food is good and healthy and cleaning out that manky lunch box at the end of each day was the worst chore! It’s more expensive though.

  7. April 15, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    Interesting to see how things have changed for you, John. The boys do a mix of school dinners and packed lunches throughout the week, which we like to think gives them the best of both worlds. There are definitely days when they prefer a school meal – pizza/spaghetti bolognaise day, for instance! – but equally there are days when they’re much happier with something from home.

  8. April 17, 2016 / 1:28 pm

    This is a good point, my son is only two but at his nursery he sits up at the table with other children and uses a proper cup and doesn’t ‘get down’ until everyone is finished.
    If her school is providing good, balanced food I think its a great idea and less hassle for you in the evenings? #MadMidWeek

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 22, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Oh yes indeed, there is less work and, for this year at least, less money being spent on food.