View Full Version : Free School Meals for Infants

9th May 2014, 17:42
Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/free-school-lunch-for-every-child-in-infant-school

My problem is that somebody from another tribe voted against this proposal saying it would cost 1 Billion to the tax payer and that the country was experiencing tight times and . . .etc.

Admittedly this is just one meal - which is not too much if you divide it into all the days of term in a full year - it probably equates to 1 Baked Bean and a corner of bread 2 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches.

Jesus fed 5,000 with merely five barley loaves and three small fishes, mind you he was the Messiah.

So if you divide a Billion £quid by the number of hungry infants (has anybody got the figures?) Shirley you could give `em something!

Lets see 6 weeks off for Summer holidays + 2 weeks at Easa + 2 weeks at Christmas + Half Term + Teacher Training day
-that's at least 12 or thirteen out of 52 weeks in a year that's about 39 weeks, say.

5 days a week (notwithstanding extra Teacher Training Days and days of because the temperature dropped below 0 deg C)

That's a max of 195 days = 195 meals in total.

1 Billion / 195 = £10,526,315 per day-

Divide that by the number infants . . . goes to Google . . . .

3,517,000 in 2015

£10,526,315 / 3,517,000 = 2.99 per meal.

Some of them won`t eat it but with a few home cooking techniques like: "Cook it" then maybe it is possible. Or, we could make a deal with a famous Chicken outlet and give them a billion and ask them to deliver.

Or that American brand that does the burgers, and the other one that does the burgers. Any self respecting butcher and a Greengrocer would do very well supplying 3,517,000 with cabbage, carrots and potatoes for a billion, you could ask the farmers to cough up some healthy munchies for a share billion easy.

9th May 2014, 18:18
My experience of school dinners in the 1950s and '60s was that they were so bad that I wanted to be PAID to eat them! I gave them up at an early stage of grammar school and could do better in town.

The apprentice hostel was no better - 16 meals a week of which 9 were baked beans. One of the works canteens offered a three course lunch for 3/- (15p), served at the table by a waitress, in 1966, which was very good value.

Lightning Mate
9th May 2014, 18:22
What a load of total garbage !!!

Everyone else has to buy their own food.

Let parents pay for the food at school.

Oh, so sorry - that would mean increasing benefits innit !!!!!!!!

23rd Jul 2014, 07:15
Sorry - the emphasis of the post was that of providing good food for the pupils not necessarily free. The point was the quality of the food - as Jamie Oliver tried to campaign and he should get a knighthood for it too - he well deserves it.

I apologise for the misleading heading `free`

Lon More
23rd Jul 2014, 07:22
Jamie Oliver - who should be given a knighthood
He's made his millions. He could afford to buy one.

The money doesn't just go for food. Also paying for a number of people to cook, distribute and clean up afterwards although a few here would expect the teachers to do that. After all, all they do is sit around in classrooms all day. :ugh:

23rd Jul 2014, 07:28
My experience of school dinners in the 1950s and '60s was that they were so bad that I wanted to be PAID to eat themThere was a little bullying and extortion racket at my school around this. Our school meals were so utterly foul that older boys bullied or paid younger ones to eat their food so they could have clean plates when the teachers inspected.

I used to line my jacket pocket with a plastic packet to hide the worst of the food, then sneak out and dispose of it in the toilet.

23rd Jul 2014, 08:06
They were cooked 19 miles away and transported by van in insulated containers - which meant that when it snowed they were frequently late arriving and we ate mid-afternoon.
Black lumps in the 'mashed' potato. :yuk:
Frogspawn (tapioca). :yuk:

All had to be eaten before you were allowed to leave.

The girl who always sat opposite me had a permanently running snotty nose. :yuk:

23rd Jul 2014, 08:16
Black lumps in the 'mashed' potato. :yuk: - grossly oversalted at our school
Frogspawn (tapioca)

Grey meat sliced paper thin, full of sinews, fat, and gristle.
Cheese pudding that smelt like old fag ends.
Macaroni cheese that smelt like a locker room and was either raw or burnt to a cinder.
Unidentifiable fruit (I think our school kitchen invented GM before the rest of the world heard of it) covered in thick yellow congealing snot with lumps of powder in it, I believe it was called custard.
Pallid grey slimy flat fish with more bones than flesh.

G-CPTN : We may have gone to the same school?

PS : I forgot SWEDES! (And I don't mean as in nordic blondes!)

23rd Jul 2014, 08:37
The point was the quality of the food - as Jamie Oliver tried to campaign

and pretty well demonstrated that the chavlettes want chips, chips and chips.

Maybe Nats suggestion of "Big M" would be the way to go.

23rd Jul 2014, 08:46
At my school there was no such thing as free food, indeed my parents paid dearly in attempt to stuff some knowledge into my shriveled noodle, yet the food was disgusting.

The boarder's food was worst of all. I remember the hideous salt encrusted bacon that was so bad that when I threw a piece that I had secreted from the 'dining room' (hall of torture) at a discerning cheeky seagull it was grabbed greedily and then dropped with a squawk of disgust and reproach!

It seems that ensuring good nutrition for our school children is a good idea, not least in that multiple studies have shown that a balanced diet aids their health, concentration and even behaviour. Britain is a wealthy country despite what we may think and a few pennies spent per child per day is an investment in this country methinks. Rather that than some of the other disgraceful expenses and waste that I would rather not think of.


23rd Jul 2014, 08:50

Swede - or, more accurately, Swedish Turnip. Served as orange slime. To this day, I am very 'unkeen' on swede, even when mashed correctly with butter, black pepper and some vinegar.

I presume that even in the early 1950s, the raw ingredients weren't bad. It must have needed some rare skill to produce such a bad end product.

tony draper
23rd Jul 2014, 09:20
I only lived about fifty yards from my school so I went home for me dinner so I never had to suffer them apart from the odd occasion,I remember there were two queues waiting to get in, one for them as paid for their dinner and another separate one for the poor folks who got free school dinners.
There was a area of my town called Car Hill where the central kitchens where,all the school dinners for the whole town were cooked,that unique smell of school dinner permeated the entire area,those kitchens are long gone now but whenever I'm in that area I swear you can still smell the ghosts of long dead school dinners.
Remember things had got a bit better post war,and we look back on them from the snottiness of affluence but just a decade or two earlier kids were probably very grateful for any kind of hot meal.

23rd Jul 2014, 09:43
but just a decade or two earlier kids were probably very grateful for any kind of hot meal.

Good point and sadly that situation is beginning to pertain again if I am to believe my head mistress friend who runs a school on that mud island near the mouth of the Thames.

Nothing worse than for a growing child to be hungry at school. Whether or not their parents are feckless or just plain poor is not the really the issue.


Krystal n chips
23rd Jul 2014, 09:51
" that older boys bullied or paid younger ones to eat their food so they could have clean plates when the teachers inspected.

I used to line my jacket pocket with a plastic packet to hide the worst of the food, then sneak out and dispose of it in the toilet.

Ah, did this lay the foundations for your subsequent secondary income stream in the form of compensation claims....not, for one moment as you say do you do so for the money....although this helps and is usually the intent of claiming erm, compensation....the principal at stake is always the priority of course.....

We can only hope however, that, given the method of disposal...visiting the toilet is a natural biological function after all, the experiences you endured did not lead to a deeper Freudian connotation.

My own school dinners consisted of various forms of slop.....as for St.Jamie, well my one, and never to be repeated, experience at one of his outlets...surrounded by DVD's, photographs, posters etc of the Divine One does not endear me to his capacity to make money by talking about, and shamelessly promoting himself.....and the food was dire !

23rd Jul 2014, 09:57
Well, (tongue in cheek!) after reading this thread, one thing sprang to my mind... you are what you eat...!!!! Hahahaha! Personally until 12 years old, public schools, school meals were plentiful and very good (means tested but even the top prices to pay were silly compared to real cost (thank you French Republique) completed by my mother's very balanced meals at home (probably 1 star at Michelin's Guide from what I heard all my life!) From 12, "Sacred Heart of Jesus" college of Aix en Provence, boarding school and never left the Refectory with a discontented stomac... which was the least they could do since I will never understand why I am not claustrophobic, this college was such a prison like building.... Mind you, tall walls all around are good for playing the Pelote Basque ....
In my opinion, Food is just as important as Education and free meals in school are the least society should provide to future adults, just to insure for them a decent health, mental and physical and a lesser burden on the NHS... IMHO.

23rd Jul 2014, 10:02
There are a number of companies which specialise in ready cooked foods for home delivery to older people. Viewers of daytime TV will be familiar with the one advertised by a diminutive Scottish comedian. These look ok (ish) - certainly better than the sort of fare described above and familiar to those of my generation. I'm sure with large contracts on offer the prices could be brought down, and all that small primary schools, many of which don't have kitchens, would need would be a microwave or two.

23rd Jul 2014, 10:15
It is a sad indictment of out society (and those of many modern Western nations) that right next to the problem of child hunger is the problem of child obesity, both forms of malnutrition and both ultimately bad for the individuals and the societies they live in.

I find Jamie Oliver irritating in the extreme but if his campaign to educate people (whatever his motives) results in a better of understanding of what is good for children then good luck to him.

In my opinion, Food is just as important as Education and free meals in school are the least society should provide to future adults, just to insure for them a decent health, mental and physical and a lesser burden on the NHS... IMHO.

Amen to that...


23rd Jul 2014, 10:27
My concern as a governor is how will the Pupil Premium* be calculated when all pupils are on free school meals? Or will it simply be abandoned and the savings used to reduce the cost of free meals for all?

I suppose we might introduce means testing, but that would not be popular with the Lib-Dems who came up with the idea.

* Pupil Premium is a subsidy provided to schools, based on the number of children entitled to free school meals. [these children are referred to in the jargon as "FSMs"]. The pupil premium supplement must be used for providing interventions to reduce the gap between the achievement of FSMs and non-FSMs.

This gap is real and measurable, by the way, in case you doubted that it exists.

Piltdown Man
23rd Jul 2014, 11:02
I didn't think that school meals were an issue until I was more enlightened by Mrs. Piltdown, who is a locum School Meals Supervisor (Dinner Lady) in a First (aka Infants) school, age range 4 to 8. From her I understand that if we exclude the majority of children who have what we might call a normal upbringing we are left (where I live) with a large minority children who do not have a good start in life.

What I mean by this is that:

These kids have interesting names
Rarely have their (or anyone else's) father at home
Have no relatives who have ever worked
Have parents who have never performed well at school
Often have many siblings
Are given last night's takeaway for lunch
Would be entitled to free school meals anyway
Are totally funded by social security
Are on Social Services radar
Don't eat home cooked food
Are hungry at school

To begrudge these kids a meal is a crime. They need proper food once in a day, even if we as a society have to provide it.

Our biggest challenge is to change the attitude of their wretched parents otherwise their offspring will grow up as useless at they are. And that's where we should be spending time and effort, but the old methods have to be ditched. We have to get rid of the "totally inclusive, multi-cultural, ethnically diverse" bunch of apologetic social workers and replace them with a few rabid Tebbit types. I fear an ever increasing underclass out-breeding us to such an extent that we'll all end up with nothing. If feeding the kids starts this process, then I'm all for it.


23rd Jul 2014, 16:44
Just as aside, are there any dinner men, or as those of the female variety are described as dinner ladies, I suppose it should be dinner gentlemen?

I've never come across any.

23rd Jul 2014, 16:55
“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.”

Statement by a Socialist?

Not really.

Made in a radio broadcast on March 21, 1943.............by W. S. Churchill

24th Jul 2014, 07:46
Nice one Piltdown Man, you should be P.M. (that'll stir `em up!)

Radeng - Thatcher soon stopped the bloody milk - did she not?

There is one bit about Socialism or rather a type of Socialism - I forget which bit which intends to "keep the masses on the brink of starvation"

We had good fresh milk - every murr got a half pint bottle - that had to be a good thing - so they stopped that - as usual because it was sane, logical and it worked.

Then they binned school meals which were not all like these guys have said in their disgusting posts - they were tasty and nutritious and also a well balanced and well worked out diet - and it did the nation well to have the kids eating a full and healthy lunch.

But they took all that out of the system - because well, it was sane and logical and anything that works must be a bad thing according to the negative mentality of most people.

If people had the awareness, the sensitivity and the vision of say, Piltdown Man then maybe something constructive would be done - and then maybe a better society would be in the making as the solutions are obvious the benefits to all in society would be obvious with a logical approach.

For decades UK school kids have been having plastic cr-pola for lunch packets of rubbish and minimal burgers and chicken nuggets even the Taliban eat better than this - OH YES THEY DO go and look!

The reason we have rubbish food now and rubbish diets is that nobody - gives a flying F!

However, they do give a monkies when people come tearing down property, stealing, work in s-it jobs and potentially procreate - create a drug market - get influenced by gangsters (who probably show them a better time and greater understanding) and eventually - if they make it that far - end up in institutions or even prison -

Nobody, but nobody - gives a s--t. Neither here - nor in America - although Mr Obama did mention something about school meals on the eve of the Malaysian coming down.

Jamie Oliver - whether he has millions or not - actually did try, very hard to get the nourishing meals to the children. In vain or not? Time will tell. He still deserves a knighthood - but jealousy will offset that idea, won`t it pprune?

There are a few, only a few nations that care about their young - the UK is not one of them.

They all talk because they are all talk - the favourite argument is - "well I cannot do all of this on my own - !" Well true, so delegate and get a team together - but don`t try it unless your nation is 100% behind you - which they won`t be.

"We raised a billion Squllian for Children in Need" - :mad:ks! Media hypo -cr-pola!! Show us the money and where it went penny by penny. Yeh, right - more like some murr is driving around in a posh Mercs after a tasty tropical holiday. It is the smart outwitting the less smart which puts the money into the pockets of the do-gooders . . . what`s the word now . . ah yes, STEALING!

Red Nose day - Red Nose Day - that's a laugh, what good does it do? Where has the Wonga gone? Where does the Wonga go? Where is Mr red nose day - do they have accounts? Where are they? In the charity bank? Doing what? Ah, waiting for a disaster - ok, got it . . . .

Guys!!! With the amount of money all these media hyped charities have drummed up you could feed all of the kids of the UK on f:mad: smoked salmon and caviar with pate` de fois gras - (not that it would do them any good) - the Wonga always ends up somewhere - we put more into feeding our enemies under international development than we do feeding even ourselves.

Who F E E D S the terrorists - we do! With our out of control international food programs - you see? If you kept THAT food and fed your own kids with it then we would have a fighting chance of survival in a competitive society rather than stuffing those bombers full of food.

But society is so competitive that we even deprive our own children of food - before us and the worst is many Indian families who would see their kids starve right in front of them.

There are a few nations that look after their young ones - Britain is not one of them - go up North see our slums and deprivation.

Our enemies would not want to bomb us if they saw all that lot! - oops I forgot - this is where two of the bombers came from.

Super charites like Children in Need - Save the Children are all just offices that house coffee drinkers who keep themselves warm in the winter and a/c cool in the summer, who have their cosy cuddly desks - nothing actually of any value ever gets done - but all the trappings of a lovely cosy office job are in place - and every now and then they pick a disaster area somewhere in the world (the place is full of them) and they send out an appeal on the telly to rake in a few million more before the blind injured cat society put in their appeal for the snow tigers of outer Mongolia or the de-tusked elephants of Africa - if any individual was daft enough to contribute to every one including manky the old mangled horse we would all be literally bankrupt - but many of us do TO THE TUNE OF MILLIONS just to ease our guilty heart - The NSPCC that is a real loo-loo - probably the greatest value charity but - hey, they do absolutely f-:mad: all!! Or else, we would not be having this conversation.

We would sooner sponsor the dying daffodils of Outer Mallorca than set to and supply, our own nation`s children - because nobody gives a f:mad: and they are too busy paying into media machines that have made them feel guilty as f:mad:k unless we sponsor the purple mountain Angora rabbits to combat against over their fluffiness!

24th Jul 2014, 08:03
What a a superb rant! One of the best I've read. Well done. :ok:

24th Jul 2014, 08:35
It should be good, he's probably been up all night writing that!

Lon More
24th Jul 2014, 09:53
Superb rant, although the decision to abolish school milk (1/3 pint bottles in my day) was condidered, but not implemented, by a Labour Government IIRC

24th Jul 2014, 10:37
School Dinners - I ate them for 11 years, and all meals for 4 years (live-in) recently as a teacher. They were generally very good, and excellent at 2 schools. They were also dire in the 1970s when I was a pupil. The key factors seem to be:
The Head must eat them too - every last bit.
The Head must listen to whichever members of staff eat at the odd times (e.g. Sunday Tea),otherwise these become the culinary equivalent of fly-tipping.
The food services were provided by the large catering companies, but the school has to be prepared to sack a bad manager/chef, and pay slightly extra for a good one, and pay a little extra for fresh ingredients also. And it is only a little extra (5%?)

24th Jul 2014, 10:57
Our school kitchen had a dog turnspit. No idea what happened to the dog, maybe we ate it :eek:

24th Jul 2014, 11:04
Natstrackalpha (http://www.pprune.org/members/380325-natstrackalpha) - Now that's a rant as she should be wrote! :ok::D

School dinners for me were delivered at 9 am by Mathew & Son of Cambridge in large metal vats and left congealing outside the side door until lunchtime - almost always inedible by then - put me off food for life it did, but I'm still immune to most forms of food poisoning 60 years on as a result!

24th Jul 2014, 11:21
Superb rant, although the decision to abolish school milk (1/3 pint bottles in my day) was condidered, but not implemented, by a Labour Government IIRC

The myths abound.

What we need to do is a little detective work. The biggest “milk snatchers” were Labour. In 1968 they took free school milk away from all 11 to 18 year olds. The Conservatives did not dub Harold Wilson a milk thief, but accepted this economy as part of the package to cut the excessive borrowing of that Labour government. No subsequent government, including the Labour governments of 1997 to 2010 thought free school milk worth reintroducing. Most people cannot remember that Edward Short was Education Secretary for most of 1968 (I looked it up) the year when the free milk was withdrawn, because no-one ran a campaign claiming he left us short of free milk.

In 1971 Edward Heath’s government took milk away from 7 to 11 year olds. This was opposed by Labour, who personalised it to the Education Secretary. Labour have always treated Mrs Thatcher in a mean and personal way. They dubbed her “Milk snatcher” rather than coming up with a phrase like “Edward Heath, milk thief”. Doubtless if the Education Secretary in the 1979-1990 governments had cut free school milk they would still have personalised it to Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister.

The BBC website tells us free milk for 5, 6 and 7 year olds had gone “by 1980″ without telling us which Minister removed it. Nor did they name the Labour Ministers responsible in 1968 for the main cut. There’s bias for you, after the account of how Margaret Thatcher had done her bit to cut it. People were so untroubled by the removal of free milk for 5-7 year olds that few can remember who did it.

Labour in office did not restore milk to primary school children, despite finding money for everything else, and despite still reminding people from time to time of their “Milk snatcher” jibe.

cockney steve
24th Jul 2014, 11:30
Quality Rant there ,Natstrackalpha.:ok:
For a short while in the early 1960's I attended "the Sweyne School" Rayleigh, Essex. (Rayleigh swine to most pupils)
Having got over the staff wandering around in Gowns and Mortar-boards
(something previously thought fictional,as depicted in Dandy, Beano et al.) I was most agreeablysurprised by the catering at the school.
Food was of excellent quality and one was allocatedto a table of, IIRC 8 persons. The supervising Master or Mistress selected which tables would send their representitives to the Servery to collect the table's food.
It was a very sociable, democratic and effective arrangement.
We served our table-companions, collected and cleaned down and relaid the table for the next sitting. we also learned to integrate with an ad-hoc group,for our mutual benefit.
The catering at my previous school, (Colchester Tec.) and subsequent one, (Belfairs Secondary-Modern, Leigh on Sea.) was adequate, edible, but not a patch on "the Swine"- yet, presumably, all being in the same County, they had similar budgets.

24th Jul 2014, 13:09
Our grandson gets 'Jamie Oliver' recipes at his nursery. He won't eat them - they're too exotic. Paella, Mexican Beans etc. are a taste too far for a four year old.

Mince & Onions with mashed potatoes or steak pie and chips with peas would be more his style, and is in fact the sort of thing he gets when he arrives back home, starving hungry, in the evening. The grown ups in our multi-racial family eat home-made curries and sambals -"what's that smell?" he'll ask when there's something cooking. It seems that small children are more sensitive to smell than actual taste.

yet, presumably, all being in the same County, they had similar budgets. Depends on how many FSMs were on the school roster.

24th Jul 2014, 23:49
Best school dinners I ever ate was for the brief period when I was teaching at Marlborough. Mind you, considering the fees the pupils' parents were paying, the food should have been good!

One thing I noticed - all staff were expected to eat with the pupils, (no sandwiches in the common room) and all were expected to sit on tables with the pupils. Also it's the only school I ever taught in where no member of staff ever pushed into the queue - even the Master (ie the head) stood in line behind the first years. At every state comp I ever taught in the accepted practice was that the staff shoved in to the queue and sat at their own tables.

Funny that!

25th Jul 2014, 00:15
Taught at 4 Independent schools; visited over a hundred others with sports teams, etc. Staff never push in.


25th Jul 2014, 08:24
As an RAF Halton Apprentice, I ran in the X-Country team. We competed with boarding schools (Halton was a boarding school for 16-19 year olds under technical training) in the Southern area and ran against Marlborough, Harrow, Stowe, Sherborne etc. At Marlborough we finished our run, showered and changed and then went to the dining hall for a meal. Back at Halton this would have been a full-on feast along the lines of snake and pygmy pie with as many chips and beans as one could handle. At Marlborough it was dainty sandwiches with a pot of tea, followed by a slice of fruit cake. Jolly nice for afternoon tea, but our bus didn't get back to Halton until well after the mess had closed and we had to buy our own in the No.1 Wing "Tank" [the NAAFI]

I suppose the Marlborough boys would tuck into a proper dinner at around 8 p.m. after "Prep"?

28th Jul 2014, 02:07
My experience of school dinners in the 1950s and '60s

was uniformly good - even the liver & bacon :ok: My favourites were braised beef, shepherd's pie, steak & kidney pie, fish pie (there's a pattern developing here...), semolina with jam, any sort of roly poly/spotted dick type of dessert and lots of custard. ISTR we actually had ham salads from time to time. I think the big difference was probably the school having its own kitchens ('twas a state school, btw), with its own raw boned, scowling dinner ladies with massive forearms. It would have been scary to be taken in hand by those creatures ....:ooh:

28th Jul 2014, 10:38
Definite mixed views on school dinners between junior and secondary schools. At junior I stopped having school dinner after I got home one day and threw uip a load of uncooked potato we had been fed. After that I came home at lunch time (and, as I recall, my lunch then consisted of a tin of Ambrosia creamed rice everyu day for 3 years, I loved the stuff).

At secondary school, no choice since there was no way to get home so I had to have school dinners and generally liked them. One thing I remember though was the amount of times we had chips. Once. In 7 years of secondary school (they installed the chip friers during my last term in the sixth form).

29th Jul 2014, 05:32
Never ever thought about that until you mentioned it - we had roast potatoes, mashed and boiled/steamed, but I never ever remember chips, or anything deep fried. They had huge steamers in the kitchen - which probably accounts for those forearms (and fingers - I forgot those great big fingers ....)

30th Jul 2014, 02:44
Had school dinners for a while in the fifties, must have been lucky as they weren't so bad.

Off topic; when I was in the Army, at one particular camp, a few of us noticed that those in the boxing team were allowed to the front of the queue, so, we arrived one day in gym kit and strolled to the front, no problem for the first couple of times until the cook sergeant noticed that the boxing team had grown from about ten strong to nearly twenty! The PTI sergeant was summoned and we cheats were 'advised' to report to the gym, there we had to beat the crap out of each other for fifteen minutes before being allowed to go. Normal working kit for meals thereafter!.

30th Jul 2014, 11:27
They had huge steamers in the kitchen

That explains why school cabbage was always pure white.

30th Jul 2014, 11:34
I must have been lucky. I attended Kinteon High 1963 - 1966. The school dinners were brilliant!

30th Jul 2014, 14:28

That explains why school cabbage was always pure white.

That's the first time I've seen 'pure' in a sentence relating to school dinners. Apart from 'pure unmitigated hell,' of course.