Schools battle to implement free lunches

Schools are resorting to bussing in meals from other schools or restricting children’s choice of food in their struggle to provide lunch for young pupils.

The Lib Dem leader promised free hot, healthy school lunches for pupils in reception, year one and year two last September. “Millions of parents across the country are feeling the squeeze…I am determined to do all we can to help put money back in the pockets of these families,” Nick Clegg said. “We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits.”

This September the Lib Dems described the initiative as a ‘massive success’, but schools across the country have been plagued with problems including:

  • canteen renovations over-running and vital equipment failing to turn up
  • schools being forced to seat children for  lunch in classrooms, music rooms or portakabins
  • children being offered cold sandwiches, or hot food on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Critics have claimed that councils and schools have been forced to raid other budgets to fund the £1 billion initiative and questioned the health benefits Mr. Clegg promised, the Mail reports. Many headteachers have argued that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

TV chef Jamie Oliver started the school dinners campaign to convince the government that schools should provide more nourishing food to pupils. The Telegraph reports that he’s modest about his influence on the new free hot lunch scheme.  “I can’t take any credit for where we’ve got to now, [but] I hope that I was a tiny seed of inspiration.”

If the Lib Dems are in government after the next election, free school meals will be offered to pupils up to the age of 11, according to schools minister David Laws.

If you work in an infant school how has the introduction of hot school meals gone? Do you think the £1 billion the scheme is costing is money well spent?

7 thoughts on “Schools battle to implement free lunches

  1. I now have a job in my 5yr old sons school kitchen cos they needed another member of staff, the food is all freshly made & is very healthy my son loves them :-)

  2. My daughter in Yr1 has yet to receive a HOT school meal. Day 1 – pizza hut ordered in as no meals arrived, day 2 – sandwiches as only half the meal turned up, and so on. It is a shame. Unfortunately our school has no catering facilities and is offering sandwiches, not the HOT meal as stated. This is to run until half term!. Its not the schools fault but the outside catering company who have clearly bitten off more than they can chew!
    I have heard of other school that have had mouldy yoghurts and rotten fruit offered to the children, how is this offering ‘a healthy school meal’? I have been sending my child in with a lunch box from home and they are very fortunate to have a hot a meal with the family at tea time.

  3. This is a waste. Parents are the ones who can offer the best for their chidren. In order to have healthy diet schools are not going to offer meals all the time. Parents are responsible for everything. Ultimately, the rich and the ones on High salary are benefiting! from school meals
    while poor university students are paying £9000 fee a year.

    This is disgusting. Unequal treatment
    Scools meals should be charged

  4. The renovations at my daughter’s school have over run and are still waiting to be completed. We have been assured by the head that the kitchen will be operational in the next 2 to 3 weeks. While the kitchen has been out of use my daughter was being provided with 1 pre packed, soggy sandwich and a bottle of water. Bearing in mind I pay for school meals, as she is in year 3, I thought the alternative to a hot meal was atrocious. I have since asked for a refund of outstanding payment and have chosen to put my daughter on packed lunches. At least I know she will be having a balanced and filling meal.

  5. This is a complete waste of time and money. Everyday children are leaving food in their plates. Everyday we have so much left over thrown away and this makes me think about our environment. Nick Clegg’s scheme is to attract voters and nothing else. Parents should be giving lunches to their children as they know best what their children like and what they would eat. We are into 3rd week of this new scheme. My school does not have kitchen so we get hot meals from outside which so far has not been coming on time.

    In my opinion £1 billion scheme is useless and is costing us and is bothering those who are paying tax. It should be stopped as soon as possible. Nick Clegg’s idea of introducing this scheme for up to 11 year olds is RUBBISH. It is disgusting to see the food being wasted in the bin.
    If hot school meals need to be there, then they SHOULD BE CHARGED. Parents who are in favour of hot meals for their children should be paying.

  6. Politicians just don’t think things through, do they? The benefits of this system of free meals to KS1 children are that some mums are getting kitchen jobs at schools where new jobs have arisen and some children are actually getting hot meals. The downside to the system?
    Well, not only have some TAs not been replaced this term (to pay for new kitchen staff) but children are eating sandwiches in the playground or having to wait upto an hour later than they are used to as they are waiting for hall space! Glad the sun is shining at the moment! My daughter has just started at the same school as her older sister who is now in year 3. The school has had to reshuffle lesson, play and lunch times just to make sure the kitchen can cope! This means that my two children will never see each other at school as their play times, including lunch, will not overlap unless they eat lunch in 5minutes flat! Very sad. Try explaining that to a 4 year old who’s been longing to go to school where her big sis is Mr Clegg!

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