Thursday, 28 August 2014

My #SchoolMealMemories

The Department of Education are encouraging everyone to think about their own #SchoolMealMemories to raise awareness for the free school meals in England.  I used to love school dinners, all those puddings with custard especially and I have fond memories of the kindly dinner ladies who were there to help.  One in particular gives me a friendly reception now years on.  I had my moments with the dinners I could not get a taste for semolina, even when the dinner ladies added a generous topping of jam!  But as a whole I had a positive experience of school dinners as a child, although I don’t think that the sheer number of sponge puddings I consumed might have been the healthiest of options or particularly good for my waistline…

I was a little sad when I had to take packed lunches instead to save money for my parents.  Although when your struggling, juggling childcare and expensive household bills it can be hard finding the money to pay for those dinners, so I understood the sacrifices we had to make.  Mind you the contents of packed lunches soon add up!  I did experiment with this to see if I could save any money, but in reality the school dinner was no more expensive and I had the convenience of someone else having the hard work of making the boys meals!

Now is the best time to take up school dinners and see the gains for your family.  In England from September children in the reception, year 1 and year 2 classes will begin to benefit from free school dinners.  It’s a wonderful idea as children will benefit from the variety of trying different foods.  Often you feel uninspired with pack lunches and the child ends up with the same contents day in and day out.

My boys both have school dinners at the moment and they have their own favourite meals.  It is handy knowing they will have a wholesome warm meal during the winter months and I think its worth spending a few pounds a day to ensure they have something more nutritious.  The school actually sent a letter round, as the packed lunches parents were sending in were so unhealthy!  No fruit or vegetable sticks in the majority of them, just lots and lots of sweets and chocolate, washed down with a highly sweetened drink!  School dinners on the other hand have to meet national standards for nutrition.


The Children’s Food Trust website gives you some idea how great school dinners are these days.  I am impressed with some of the items my boys are mentioning sampling like courgette cake, its fabulous that schools are cramming in some sneaky vegetables even into their puddings.  They also seem to have a lot of flapjacks crammed with fruit and yoghurts.  I think I would pine for my steamed puddings of old but I know my boys are developing healthy eating habits, which makes me a happy parent.  Hopefully they will avoid being burdened with my sweet tooth this way…  

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