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School Meals

12th Nov 2021 | Food

National School Meals Week

The days when education was all about learning by rote have long gone, now the importance of a healthy lifestyle is as prominent in the classroom as the correct use of the comma.

And it’s now recognised that the time spent in the dining hall can play a significant role in the ability of young people to make the most of their school years. Repeated studies have shown that eating regularly promotes good mood and attention and more nutritious meals can aid learning.

School Meals Week promotes the connection between healthy body and healthy mind and the importance of both – a cause that has seen regular protests and campaigns.

In 2005 TV chef Jamie Oliver filmed a series of programmes which highlighted the poor nutritional value of many school dinners. As well as marking the demise of the infamous turkey twizzler, the programme found itself as a major topic of the General Election with all parties pledging to improve the fare on offer.

In 2012 Scottish schoolgirl Martha Payne began attracting thousands of followers to her daily blog that reviewed and rated her school dinner.

That figure rocketed when the council tried to ban her from photographing her dinner and posting her thoughts. Human rights groups got involved, as did the Scottish Parliament. The ban was lifted and Martha wracked up ten million hits and raised enough money to fund a school kitchen in Malawi before leaving primary school.

Soon after, school meal standards were introduced across the UK  and cooking skills plus the study of nutrition and healthy eating were added to the national curriculum. Thanks to the campaigning of Marcus Rashford, the legal requirement on schools to ensure pupils from poorer households get a healthy meal was extended to cover holidays and lockdown.

The greater awareness of the importance of nutrition as well as food allergies and intolerances; food preferences based on taste or religion and lifestyle choices including vegan and vegetarianism are said to be some of the reasons why the number of children shunning school dinners in preference to packed lunches is on the rise.

A survey by Aviva found that 75% of pupils were bringing in packed lunches and in the majority of cases parents believed it provided a healthier option than school meals.

With many schools and colleges now providing microwave facilities the packed lunch choice can be far greater than that offered on the school dinner menu.

Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian option, delicious risotto, hearty or light soup, the Real Soup Company offers a wide choice of flavours to meet dietary, religious and taste choices. All of our soup and meal pots come with a unique protective sleeve for safety and comfort, meaning that the soup can be eaten directly from the pot (without the worry of burnt fingers).

Meanwhile, Zorba’s dips and deli fillers provide a range of lunchbox options when a cold meal is preferred.

Whether you choose a packed lunch or school dinner the same golden rules apply. The food should be nutritionally balanced, enjoyable with care taken to avoid too many fatty foods and sugar.