Please Sir - can I have some more?
I've seen a lot of social comments about the Conservative Party Manifesto announcement to scrap universal school meals and a lot of the people giving that idea a 'Like' or 'thumbs-up' emoticon have reasoned that unless families can't afford to pay then the meals shouldn't be free. It just isn't that simple for many reasons and yes it is far more complex than a financial decision:
- For one it makes a level playing field and massively increases the uptake of school meals from said low-income families.
- It removes stigma and supports equality.
- Being able to afford something doesn't mean someone will pay for a meal if given a choice as it is perceived that school meals are more costly than packed lunches (especially when a family has two or three children to feed).
- Continuing on from that if there is a level of control over what children eat for the first three years of school there is a chance to influence choices for future, expand foods tried and acceptance of different foods and get away from a cheese sandwich and apple.
- We can't get away from the fact that kids are leaving school obese and ending up with Type II Diabetes and we need to tackle that now as our NHS cannot cope with all the health issues bad food creates. Free school meals are an integral part of that mission.
- Oh and children are now learning better and performing better as a result of the changes in school food from processed food and junk.
- Finally catering is expensive and that financial infrastructure from free school meals supported kitchens, equipment and investment.
I've managed Comms and PR for school food charities and NGOs for over a decade, I worked for the School Food Trust just after the Turkey Twizzler outcry and I am sad to say it isn't fixed yet but we have come so far and all that effort, all that time, all that investment could all be thrown out with the food waste if the Conservatives get their way. It is a shortsighted money grab that will come home to roost if acted on.
Please sir - let them have more!
As Jamie said - this is the biggest restaurant on the planet - https://www.channel4.com/news/jamie-oliver-frustrated-over-conservatives-school-lunches-plan