I am a huge believer in school meals. My boys have both had school lunches since they started school and I firmly believe that there are huge benefits for kids from eating school dinners.
Free school meals for infant aged children in England
As from this September all infant aged children in England (reception, year 1 and year 2) are entitled to free school lunches. For me this would be a saving of over £900 (although my boys are older). This was piloted in Durham and was a big success. Children in the pilot areas quickly moved ahead of their peers elsewhere, by almost a term. Hungry children can’t concentrate and it helped solved the problem of feeding pupils who are “not quite poor enough”. These children come from low-income families who don’t quite qualify for free school meals, but can’t afford to pay for them – or to put together a good packed lunch. Want to know more about the free school meals then do check out the Department for Education and the Children’s Food Trust.
To help publicise this the Department of Education are asking people to share their #SchoolMealMemories. I have to admit that I have pretty decent school meal memories and the boys school dinners are ace.
The benefits of eating school dinners
- Eating a balanced meal at lunchtime is important for concentration. Hungry children can not concentrate
- Peer pressure – My boys will often try a new food if they see their friends eat it. This is a great way to introduce new foods.
- The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe with one in three children overweight or obese by Year 6. School lunches are a nutritionally balanced meal.
- School lunches provide the opportunity for pupils to sit down and enjoy their meal whilst developing social skills that will be very important later in life.
- The boys school dinners provide three of their five a day
- Research by the Children’s Food Trust shows that school meals are now consistently more nutritious than packed lunches, giving the children who eat them a better foundation for good health.
- A Children’s Food Trust study has shown that children in primary schools are 3 times more likely to concentrate in the classroom following improvements to the food and dining room
- I believe that by eating a warm school lunch and being taught about making healthy food choices that we are giving our children a solid foundation in food and equipping them with the skills for years to come.
- Table manners and cutlery skills come from everyday use and seeing how other people eat. You would be surprised at just how many children can not use a knife and fork or talk with their mouth full. For some children lunchtime will be the only time they eat at a table or in company.
- Don’t just take my word for it, this survey on why Teachers think school meals are important is eye opening.
Just to show that I am not totally against school lunches, Cass my dear friend from Diary of a Frugal Family gives her kids pack lunches and this is her post on them.