In 2004 the school wrote to parents. My reply is attached. Bearing in mind this was before Jamie Oliver mania kicked off, an extract from my reply is as follows :-
I have seen the new dining room and suggest that the biggest improvement is to the catering staff. Giving kids a choice is one thing, allowing them to buy sweets, crisps, burgers and fizzy drinks instead of proper food is not a good move. Some kids will always choose a healthy balance, some will stray occasionally, and some will abuse the freedom every chance they get. This gives parents and teachers no control, other than to take them off school meals altogether. The system of a â€œprintoutâ€ to indicate what your child has been eating has proved to be very inaccurate and is easily bypassed by any child due to them using each others cards.
I do not believe that all children are ready for a move from total control at junior school to complete freedom at the same age. Flexibility is something that can be introduced gradually at the same time as they are receiving information in classes.
My suggestion is to only allow the dinner cards to buy a school meal and other healthy choices (fruit etc). If parents allow their children to have extras like sweets then they can give them cash and the children can choose where and when to get it from (to/from school included of course). This will help to reduce the substitution of junk for food.
I have recently spoken to many other people who share this view, some of the â€œold waysâ€ still have some value. We will see how far Mr Jon Owen Jones MP manages to push his bill to ban junk food from vending machines. I realise that HHS does not have vending machines, you don’t need them as you sell it all over the counter!
I also realise that the catering has been outsourced â€“ time for a re-think there and an amended contract. I know of one school where a teacher took direct action to remove all the junk food from the (outsourced) catering staff, if they haven’t got it on the counter they can’t sell it. You may be surprised at the result. Kids will still buy things to eat and will still spend all the money on their card each week, thus not impacting on the catering service requirement to recover costs in a commercial way.