According to a survey conducted of 12, 000 parents by Laca, who represent school catering managers, many parents feel that they would rather have their children stay within the school premises during their lunch break than be able to leave. The majority of parents voted that this should be the case for children up to the age of 16. Although is this plausible and was this really the point of the survey?
It’s obviously in the interest of catering companies that provide their services to schools to know what parents and children want and need, but it seems like the reaction evoked by the survey didn’t have anything to do with limiting where children eat. Unsurprisingly, seeing as it has to do with school meals, it has been used as ammunition the old Jamie Oliver versus the department of education battle, according to the BBC website. Although I am a firm believer that children in schools should have the benefit of decent meals, I don’t think that this is the issue.
No matter how nice you make meals it’s not likely to make kids stay in school. I am not entirely in favour of banning kids from leaving school premises, unless it’s completely practical and plausible for a school to do so, especially considering their limited means. If it’s possible for a school to implement these restrictions, I think we should still be looking at other ways to drive home the realities of nutrition.
Children still need to learn the basis of healthy living and lifestyle from their parents and during their education. However, judging by the obesity figures indicating that more than half of adults are overweight or obese, even parents may be finding it difficult to take care of their health. Therefore Jamie Oliver’s should dinner campaign has so much potential, because it’s about improving the whole system, from what kids put in their mouths to what they think about food. Whatever we may think of Jamie Oliver, his efforts were much needed and should still be expanded on.
Many of us grow up not always knowing how to treat our bodies. On the one hand we have an economy that allows us the convenience of copious amounts of fast food, a problem that is perpetuated by constant advertising fed all to easily to us during couch-bound routines. On the other hand we are also constantly reminded of our own imperfections through our over-exposure to celebrity body culture, creating a false perception of what a healthy body is supposed to be.
School dinners should be healthy and tempting for children to eat, but at the same time, I think children should still be guided so that they understand why they should pick certain foods over another. It’s convenient to assume that a child won’t be able to choose an unhealthy lunch, but when they do eventually reach an age where they do need to look after their own nutrition, will they be able to make the best decision for themselves?
We do wrong to assume that all children simply eat what they are given, without thinking too much about it, otherwise we wouldn’t have a problem with fast-food advertising. Therefore, parents and schools, along with providing children with nutritious options, should continue teaching young children how to think about food and the benefits of good nutrition.