When I came to hear of the free school dinners for infants, I had written a post about it. If you have read it, you will know that while sounding ungrateful, I was not too thrilled about it.
Well, the time has come and school dinners have been made compulsory in my children’s school – for infants, that is. And I am obviously none too pleased.
I do appreciate the idea that for some children, this may be the only good meal that they will have.
I also appreciate that many parents may like the idea of not having to prepare their children’s packed lunches.
I am still not happy about the idea.
My children’s school, to be fair, serve up some pretty nice (sounding) school dinners. There’s jacket potato, pasta, burgers, roast and a dessert everyday. There is also a salad and fruit bar. Which ‘sounds’ all very healthy.
Yet I have my misgivings.
First of all, I don’t know how much my child is eating. When I attended some school dinners with my daughter, I saw many children throwing away food they didn’t want into the bin. They are not allowed to do this with their packed lunch and have to bring it back home. So, I know exactly how much they eat. Now, I don’t know how much is going into the bin.
Then, of course, ask my son what he had for school dinners and he probably only remembers the dessert. That tells me that the dessert was probably eaten first and the main course? Well, probably picked at, poked around the plate and then when there was no more time – thrown in the bin.
Fruit or fruit yogurt or cheese was a part of my packed lunch for my children. While the school offers fruit and vegetables to the children, how many children would honestly go and pick up a fruit over dessert or voluntarily pick up some veggies – at age 5, 6 and 7? Very few, I imagine. And definitely not my son!
The quality of the food also does worry me. First of all the food is prepared offsite and brought to the school. These caterers cater to many schools in the area and I wonder how quality is addressed when preparing food for thousands of children?
Lastly, personally, I like preparing my children’s lunches. Yes, it has been nice not to have to do so these past two days but I like thinking about what to put into their lunch. I like to see their smiles when they see a little treat or their favourite yogurt in their lunch box. I like putting in little notes for them to find when they open their lunch box (maybe not everyday but ever so often)
I feel that preparing one’s child’s lunchboxes is part of the nurturing process that parents undertake and I don’t like the idea of it being taken away from me.
And I don’t like the idea of it being made compulsory.
So, yes, Thank you all the same for the school dinners…but I’d rather pass!