Free school dinners? Thanks – But I’ll Pass.

School dinners free for primary school children? Am I happy? Well, yes and no!

First of all this news has been playing Chinese whispers and I would like to correct this – The school dinners are for children aged 5 -7, not the entire primary age range.

My children love school dinners (well, they actually like school desserts, to be honest) Possibly, because of the fact that there are restrictions on desserts in packed lunches. For instance, the school would probably frown upon chocolate in packed lunch but it would be fine to have chocolate cake with chocolate sauce for dessert served with school dinners.

I like the idea of children being served hot meals for dinner. But when you have 2 children, one in the infants and one in the juniors and both like school dinners how am I going to get round that? My daughter was already miffed about the fact that her brother would be entitled to school dinners everyday and she would not. I can understand that the undertaking may be too huge for the government to give ALL primary school children school dinners but as a mother, not doing so, leaves me in a dilemma.

The school dinners at my children’s school are great – lasagne, cottage pie, chicken tikka masala, wraps, jacket potatoes with tuna – the menu is quite mouth-watering. My concern is that when there are so many more to make – will the quality still be the same or will it decline?

I have on occasion been told by my daughter that sometimes she has been given less of the main meal and she could have as many potatoes to make up for it. She has also missed the garlic bread with the lasagne or the cookie with the hot cocoa as she has been second sitting! With more school dinners to cater for, will she have to make do with the potatoes alone?

As a mum, I worry about the children all the time. Are they eating their lunch? Is it substantial? I like the idea of knowing what goes into their lunch box which is why both my children take packed lunch.

I like the idea of knowing exactly how much they have eaten as they bring back what they cannot finish.

I also like the idea that the schools can (Should!!) trust us parents to know what is right for our children. As long as we are packing a balanced meal in the lunch bag, I think there is no harm in there being a small treat in it once in a while. After all, I could pack a healthy lunch or have them have healthy school dinners and then give them unhealthy food for the rest of the day? Which obviously as a parent with responsibilities, I would not do!

I do not mind if it is an option that I can consider so I can make a choice of whether I would like to avail of school dinners on a particular day or give my children a packed lunch.

Free School dinners, anyone?  At the risk of sounding ungrateful –  Thanks, but I’ll pass.

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