A health-conscious school has BANNED young children from bringing in packed lunches because of the appalling contents of many of their lunchboxes.
Some parents are packing up nothing but chocolate bars, while other children are sent to school with a whole packet of biscuits or even a Tupperware full of cold McDonald’s burger and chips, said headteacher Mrs Rosemarie Jones.
Her governors at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Primary School in Greenleys this week introduced a ‘school meals only’ rule from September for all pupils aged four to seven.
Under the government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme, these youngsters qualify for free lunches - regardless of parents’ income.
Mrs Jones sent a letter home on Tuesday to explain the new rule. It prompted criticism from a couple of parents that the school was taking away their children’s freedom of choice.
“My child won’t eat anything if they can’t have their packed lunch from home. This rule is unfair,” said one.
But Mrs Jones insists the school is acting in the best interests of its young pupils.
“We have done this for very positive reasons because it is better for the children’s health to have a nutritious meal . And, of course, it is free, saving parents £485 a year,” she said.
The head said the school also had a problem storing lunchboxes and those full of sticky and sweet offerings were attracting ants.
“Many children bring unacceptable packed lunches, for example two chocolate bars and a yoghurt or cold chips and sausage or a packet of biscuits and crisps.
“We’ve even seen children with a cold McDonald’s meal in their lunchbox. How can this be healthy?
The school, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, uses nationwide catering company Chartwells to supply cook and chill meals, which are ordered online a week in advance by parents.
“We have a range of hot meals but if children don’t like them they can order a packed lunch through Chartwells,” said Mrs Jones. “This will be balanced and nutritious and consist of a sandwich or wrap, yoghurt, a piece of fruit and a drink.”
The lunchbox ban only applies to children in reception to Year 2. Children in Years 3 to 6 will be allowed to bring lunches from home as usual.