Published On: Tue, Jul 16th, 2013

England ‘headteachers’ urged to ban packed lunches which have been ‘less nutritious’

Teachers in England are being urged to ban packed lunches on the grounds that they are “nearly always less nutritious than a cooked meal.”

A government-commissioned school food review has suggested stopping pupils bringing in food from home in their efforts to promote healthy eating. The suggestions are to ban “sugary drinks, crisps and confectionary, or offer prizes and other incentives for bringing in a healthy lunch”.

Food investigators in England are pushing to ban packed lunches to meet the standards of healthy foods.  Public domain image/ Kcdtsg at the wikipedia project

Food investigators in England are pushing to ban packed lunches to meet the standards of healthy foods.
Public domain image/ Kcdtsg at the wikipedia project

Investigators allege that only one per cent of packed lunches meet the overall nutritional standards that currently apply to school food: research published in 2010 by Dr Charlotte Evans of Leeds University.

The vast majority of packed lunches are not nutritious enough. A random sample of 1,000 packed lunches found 85 per cent contained sandwiches, while two thirds contained sweets, sugary drinks and savory snacks such as crisps. Only one in five contained the recommended proportion of vegetables.

The School Food Plan, which looks into the state of school meals in 2012, is the work of restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent.

Ordered by the Department for Education, the review follows strong criticism from TV chef Jamie Oliver, who earlier led a successful campaign to ban junk and processed food from school canteens.

“More than a half of our children bring packed lunches into school and two-thirds of those have crisps in them and two-thirds have confectionery in them. The best schools – the schools that have good food – find ways of making packed lunch the less exciting option. Some of them ban packed lunch altogether,” restaurant chain Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Encouraging more children to eat in the canteen would have the added effect of making it easier and cheaper to produce nutritious food, he said.

“Canteens are a bit like a restaurant – if you’re half empty, you’re losing money, said Mr Dimbleby.

“The more children you have in, the better food you can serve at a cheaper price. We did a survey of 400 headteachers. Over 90% believe strongly that food has a direct effect on academic achievement and behavior.”


Politicians have picked up from Dimbleby’s recommendation to justify the millions and millions in funding.


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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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