Thursday 24 March 2005

food for thought

When I was a little 'un, I was always able to go home for lunch. I was lucky; we always lived close to my schools and I had a stay at home Mom who fed me decent meals, three times a day. I didn't really have to endure school dinners (or as we call it back home, "cafeteria food") and few of the schools I attended didn't even have a cafeteria until I reached high school. Admittedly, I ate a lot of crap in high school. I never ate breakfast so by midmorning I'd be starving and would go to the "caf" to buy chocolate doughnuts. Mmmm doughnuts. My Mom always sent me to school with a sandwich, but I'd either have it with a bag of chips/crisps (chips on a sandwich - heaven) or I'd pitch it in the bin and get a plate of fries/chips instead. I usually had lunch with a chocolate milk, and would sometimes buy another junky snack for the afternoon (usually Fritos or Doritos). Although I ate all of this junk, my health was undoubtedly spared by the fact that any meals I ate at home were nutritious. We never ate prepared foods (okay, we ate fish sticks every now and then), my Mom never had junk food in the house, and a meal out was a real treat for special occasions. I can't ever remember being fed fast food unless it was at some kid's birthday party or until I could purchase it myself as a teen.

Recently, Jamie Oliver did a series about the state of school dinners in Britain. Kids are being fed prepackaged, processed junk food because schools claim that they can't afford anything else and it's "what the kids want". Children as young as 7 are eating nothing but a plate of chips for lunch, or preformed breaded mystery meat. While this might not be too serious for children who, like me, were fed well at home this is the main meal of the day for a lot of kids. School dinners are free for some children, to ensure that they have at least one substantial meal a day when it is likely that they won't get fed much at home. So when their one meal a day consists of a frozen potato product and something covered in custard, this is not a good thing. There is a petition on the Feed Me Better web site, dedicated to providing healthy food for school children. Oliver proved that schools could provide decent meals, even on the 35-45p limit per child. As I mentioned in my NHS food rant a month ago, good food can be done on a budget.

You can sign the petition here, and please sign soon. The petition closes on Monday at midnight.

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