Packed lunch V school dinners; where do you stand?

healthy_eating4132413This particular debate has been going on for quite some time and there are no chances of seeing the end of it any time soon. So, what do you choose?

The eldest girl, Jack is a six year old and gets free hot dinners which are provided to all children under the age of seven. Fun fact: they are now called hot dinners but back in our day, we called them school dinners (Interesting, eh?).

One of the parents from Jack’s school did some quick calculations and concluded that by allowing their child the free hot dinners, they saved £1,000 annually.

So let me quickly tell you the advantages that popped in my mind first time I heard of the numbers.

  1. We need the money.
  2. No preparing meals every morning.
  3. Call me stingey if you like, but after the huge sums taxes we pay each year, I think we have a right to take advantage of any opportunity available to us.

But even after the important financial factor, I am not convinced just yet.

When Sarah first started school, we had met with the catering team and they seemed nice. We opted for hot dinners when Sarah was in Reception and it seemed fine. But they because of her meal option, she could not sit with the group of children she was trying to befriend. Hence, we started packing her lunch for her.

At the time she was new to the whole school thing and her settling in well was the most important thing at the time. But it’s been two years and she has friends so the debate arises.

My child’s health comes first. When we make her lunch, we know the nutrient intake necessary and that is also out primary concern. We make sure she gets one portion of the fruit and vegetable intake as needed and her drinks are do not contain any artificial ingredients. I’m no expert at meal planning but I make it a point to meet standards.

If she does not eat some of her lunch then the school sends it back home. This gives us a perfect idea of how much she ate.

Is we opted for hot dinners, then we would be clueless of what our child was eating and how much she was eating. I’m not saying they would feed her chips and burgers but she could be filling up on white bread whereas we like to feed her brown bread.
Back in our day, school dinners were not very healthy but my parents insisted I had those. If they knew what I ate, they might not have insisted. But in this day and age, this is no longer a problem.

I, on the other hand, am keen to not let my children consumer that sort of food. And as a father, I am more than happy to prepare Sarah’s meals myself and be sure of the food she is eating.

Thinking about it from the corporate perspective, I spoke on the LoveAllDads podcast regarding the subject. As more and more kids will opt for hot dinners, rival companies will try their best to sell their dinners at the lowest possible price which means they will compromise on the quality. Schools will definitely look at this from a financial perspective and buy from the lowest priced vendor. Are we sure we want our kids to eat food that is compromised?

Again, I am not expert and this is merely an opinion. There have been rumors and it is probable. Hence, I have my concerns.

So to end this, I am choosing to pack lunch for my children and I think I will keep doing so for a while.

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