Should schools really consider banning packed lunches?

The newly-delivered School Food Plan report recommends that Headteachers and Principals consider banning packed lunches as well as stopping pupils going out of school to eat at fast food restaurants.

I understand the reasoning behind the packed lunches recommendation and while I am not in favour of banning packed lunches per se, I actually would like to see a ban on chocolate, crisps and sugary, fizzy drinks.

With regard to a blanket ban on packed lunches, we must remember that as well as being nigh on impossible to police, a significant number of UK school students do eat nutritious packed lunches every day.

The finding that the standard of school food has risen greatly since Jamie Oliver’s turkey twizzler alert is gratifying for all of us who have worked so hard to turn school meals around. But even though, generally speaking, the takeup of school food is poor, I don’t think we will gain much through coercion or force.

In Cucina’s seven years of operation, doubling, tripling and quadrupling uptakes of school meals, we have found that if you expose kids to a range of attractively presented, freshly cooked food, they will choose to buy it.

This has to be the best way forward, surely?

What I am recommending here is the importance of never cutting corners. School caterers must employ good chefs and insist on the best ingredients. Then they must get their teams enthusiastic about cooking great food and work hard to promote and attract, just like they would in any marketplace.

So yes, let’s ban the unhealthy stuff in schools, the crisps, the chocolates, the sugary drinks, but after that, trust to the ability of young people to recognise and respond to good food when they see it!

Till next time,

Steve

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