School Dinners – talking turkey!
We know that school dinners have changed. Even before Jamie Oliver things were not as they were when I was at school. During my time almost everyone had a school dinner apart from those few who lived close to the school gate with mum at home. They were the ‘home dinners’ on the register. It was a time when few mothers worked and children went to their local school.
Since then, the world of school dining has undertaken a monumental change. Sandwiches have become the norm for many children. Parents cite cost of school meals as the reason for the change and the eating preferences of their children that can often result in them not eating any of the school meal so sandwiches are a better option. As an aside, I would question some of the nutritional value that is contained in many lunch boxes but that is for another post!
School kitchens and cooks have had to change their mind set of how they set a menu. For instance, they are no longer allowed to use salt facing a large fine if it is found in the kitchen. The meals have to provide all the recommended 5-a-day items and there has to be a choice of meal as well as a vegetarian option. This has caused some school kitchens to become beds of discontent and stress! It is not to say that the healthy approach is not an admiral one. It is about the ‘customers’ actually liking the food enough to pay a daily amount for it.
Cooks are trying to be creative and it may well be that a new campaign from the Bernard Matthews company (they of the ‘bootiful’ fame) may help. Obviously, it is about turkey. I asked our school cook if she was allowed to use it and the reply was as expected ‘Only at Christmas’. The campaign has enlisted the help of Martin Kemp and Marco Pierre White who can be seen dining in this clip. I’m not sure that people do think of turkey without thinking about presents but it may be sensible for schools to investigate the cost and explore using this meat to ring the changes for those pupils who are still supportive of school dinners.