Friday, 12 July 2013

Banning Packed Lunches

It's not often that I talk about things that are going on in the news, I find it far too depressing and would rather live in my happy land where bad things don't happen and everyone is happy. Yet this morning I couldn't help but see tweets about a BBC report about packed lunches and how two chaps who own a chain of restaurants have come to the conclusion that packed lunches should be banned in Schools.

Cue the outrage.

Why are people angry though?


I'm angry because it's a case of labelling all parents who send their child to school with a packed lunch as irresponsible and unable to provide a nutritious and healthy lunch. I think that it's a far better move to spend money educating not only the children in School (and the younger the better) about nutrition and how our bodies use energy, but also going back over this for all parents. I took Home Ec classes at School and I remember being taught what makes a balanced meal. Sure I might have forgotten a bit of it and put on a few extra pounds but I'm dealing with that. I'm sure that all of us learnt things like that at School and if we didn't then how on earth are we supposed to know how to make nutritious balanced meal plans for our families? Something, which I've just read that Nickie totally agrees with me on.

Sandwich Sushi Packed Lunch


Are School Lunches better or just different?


Other parents are angry because of the nutrition offered from School Meals. It's not all Turkey Twizzlers as some news stories would have you believe but it's far from being perfect in a lot of areas. I heard a woman on the radio today whose child has been told that they are only allowed one portion of vegetables with their School Lunch of Shepherd's Pie and had to have another Carb added... despite Shepherd's Pie already being covered in carb heavy mashed potato!

Have lunch will travel


Of course just because the meal at lunch is hot doesn't mean that it is nutritious, which seems to be what one of the restaurateurs on the radio this morning seemed to be insinuating. He said something along the lines of how when packing a lunch food that lasts had to be included, so processed meat and packets of crisps were the obvious choice for parents. I'm pretty certain that sausages are processed meat and also on many a School lunch menu but I'm guessing because they are hot that it's okay...

A Rainbow Packed Lunch


Cost and Value


Whilst I'm sure I could find a way to pay for my Children to have a School Meal if that was what I was being forced to do, it would have a huge knock on effect to the rest of my life. No longer would my family eat a cooked meal in the evening together, instead the children would eat a sandwich whilst Daddy and I ate a cooked meal separately later. That's going to help the family unit stay together isn't it?

Every Child is different


Alex at DaddaCool mentioned how price is an issue as well as portion size and I have to agree with him. Every child has a different appetite, some may be more energetic and need more fuel for their bodies, others may eat a lot less or may need more food one day compared to another, but unlike how a parent can take this into account and add more or less food to a lunch box a School Canteen can't do that.

We're quite a good example of how every child is different. Big Boy being a Type 1 Diabetic needs an exact measurement of carbs in his meal, and we need to know exactly what that is each meal. A scoop of mashed potato (for example) could vary time to time and so knowing that one 120g scoop is 19g of carbs is all well and so Big Boy needs half a unit of insulin (not his actual ratio) for that scoop is fine, until the next time when it's nearly the end of a tray of mash and so he gets 90g of Mash but because it's a scoop still gets the half unit of insulin and before you know it he's suffering a hypo.

Chicken and Vegetable Rice Packed Lunch

What about children with allergies? Are School's going to make everything gluten free, egg free, milk free just to make sure there isn't cross contamination?

Will it ever happen though?


Today I've spoken with several parents on Twitter and Facebook who have said that they love the lunches that I make for my children, that they take inspiration from them and they can see that I carefully plan what the children have, making sure there is a variety and that nutritional needs are met. Thank you for the lovely compliments, and for all those who've linked to me in various posts today saying just that.

Halloween Themed Packed Lunch

Most of these parents are equally outraged by the suggestion of banning packed lunches and are sure that there are other measures that could be put in place to help parents, but what do you think?

Should the government be telling us what we can and can't feed our children?

Should School's be allowed to ban certain foods from lunchboxes?

Should there be more education to not only our children but to us too?

The only good thing I can see coming out of this rather stupid report is that it has opened a dialogue for everyone to join in with about food and health and nutrition. Maybe now we'll see some changes that actually helps families, maybe we'll see changes to the labelling of foods and the understanding of how a balanced diet means you can eat almost everything in moderation.

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