School meals - how many options = choice?


So I was watching the BBC's breakfast news this morning and there was a story on school caterers complaining that new nutritional standards were not going to allow them to offer students enough choice. The way the guy being interviewed was talking I assumed children would be faced with just one set meal with no choice at all. But then he said "We'll only be able to offer two or three choices of meal". Like this was the end of the world.

I'm left wondering just how much choice people (not just children) really need when it comes to lunch? A choice of three healthy meals sounds absolutely fine to me. In fact I get suspicious of restaurants that offer 20 or 30 different choices - I tend to think there can't be much actual cooking going on there, more defrosting. I love those places that do two or three things but do them well.

Bit of a digression there. But do we really think that we need to offer ten different options at lunchtime? The caterers are arguing that faced with "no" choice children will vote with their feet and head for the chip shop. That seems like another argument to me - why have an open door policy at lunchtime at all? I hate that "in my day" thing, but we weren't allowed out at lunchtime until we were sixthformers (to be fair the town was about 20 mins walk away and there were no local shops so it was a bit pointless anyway). There were lunchtime clubs (often run by sixthformers) and a games cupboard, and you could use the library. I assume its a question of staff to look after the children and young people on site.

On the up side the BBC did interview two young people about the proposals and both said they thought there should be more choice. So what do I know? The question was a bit leading though: "There's a big chip shop on the corner, if students don't like what they get here will they go to it more often?"

 

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