Tuesday, 10 April 2012

School dinners - why don't children eat them?


I'm told* (and it can be checked so is probably true) that Bradford is in the "top quartile" for performance on free school meal take up.

For the record 88.5% of eligible primary and 85.4% of secondary pupils received their free dinners. This is better than the national and regional average and seems pretty good until you say that about 1 in 9 of entitled primary kids and 3 in 20 of similar secondary children aren't getting - claiming - their free dinner.

One wonders why? Is it peer pressure? Parental incompetence? Impenetrable bureaucracy?

More to the point why don't more parents insist on their children getting school meals? Here in Bradford the cost is very reasonable - £1.50 per meal in primary and £2.15 per meal secondary. That's a main meal for five days in school time for less than £11 and a mere £7.50 if the child's under eleven.

Yet less that 60% of primary and less that 40% of secondary children in Bradford don't take school dinners!

They can't be that awful can they?

*Note: the figures here come from a briefing on the school meal service that I received recently



WitteringsfromWitney said...

"One wonders why? Is it peer pressure? Parental incompetence? Impenetrable bureaucracy?"

Or perhaps some parents don't believe in claiming off the state that which they feel they can - and should - provide? Perhaps those children receive a packed lunch as their parents provide an evening meal?

Should we not be breaking the habit of accepting state aid just because it's available?

Off-topic slightly, but is it right that parents with an income of £60K get child benefit? Are not children like any other acquisition - ie, if you can't afford the upkeep then don't get one?

Apols if I appear argumentative........

Curmudgeon said...

I've got the impression from various places that strict nutritional requirements have tended to make school meals pretty dull and unappealing nowadays.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the stats surrounding this issue but I do know that serving a meal on a plastic tray such as you see in prisons is definitely not the way to see children eating. Mind you I guess it prepares some of the little darlings to life after school.

SadButMadLad said...

As WfW says, maybe the parents provide the food. They could provide a hearty breakfast which is better than having a big meal shortly before going to bed (though teenagers and kids now a days stay up past midnight). I have a good slap up breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast, etc) which keeps me going nearly all day so I only need a very light lunch of sandwich and piece of fruit. A lot less cost then £1.50.