Pupils say 'yuk' and shun school dinners

OVER three-quarters of pupils in North Somerset are choosing not to eat school dinners. Parents are shunning school dinners because they think they are too expensive and their children will not eat them because they do not like them. Councillors also susp

OVER three-quarters of pupils in North Somerset are choosing not to eat school dinners.Parents are shunning school dinners because they think they are too expensive and their children will not eat them because they do not like them.Councillors also suspect the 'stigma' attached to having free school meals is putting children eligible for free meals off.A handful of schools, including one Weston secondary school, have deserted the council's contractor and brought in their own because of the poor standard of meals.At one North Somerset school just eight out of 83 pupils are eating hot food at lunchtime.North Somerset is now looking at awarding a new contract next year and wants to ban unhealthy food like chips and chocolate, and encourage youngsters to eat two servings of fruit and vegetables a day and oily fish three times a week.Deep-fried food such as battered fish or chips would only be served up twice a week and chicken nuggets and burgers will be restricted to 'occasional use' and only used if it meets minimum meat content guidelines.The subject was due to be examined by North Somerset's Children and Young People's Services Policy and Scrutiny Panel yesterday (Thurs) at Weston Town Hall.Panel chairman Cllr Jeremy Blatchford said: "Over the last few years the take up of school dinners has really dropped. We want to change this and encourage our young people to have nutritional and affordable school dinners."I think the problem is firstly the confidence parents have in school meals has been eroded by television programmes. Secondly a lot of children don't like them. "There is also the issue of free school meals which some pupils don't like having because of the stigma attached to them or they simply don't like them."At the other end of the scale there are families which are not eligible but cannot afford them. I think we have an aspiration from the Government which does not necessarily work at this level. I do not know the answer, but that is why we have scrutiny panels.


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