School dinners

April 01, 2005 ,

I WAS a fussy eater as a small child.
It was a bit of an embarrassment for my mother, who at that time was a dinner lady at our primary school.
No amount of threats or bribes could get me to eat cabbage or tapioca pudding, which to me looked like frog spawn.
But my long suffering mother persisted, and now I'll eat anything (except dill pickles).
The government announcement of more money for school dinners in England is welcome.
Wales and Scotland are already doing better, but there is much more room for improvement.
Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, deserves credit for using his fame and skills in a positive way to highlight the issue of junk food in our schools.
But more money won't solve the issue on its own.
The rot set in during the 1980's when nutritional standards were lowered, and cost cutting became more important than healthy eating.
The so-called 'nanny state' became unpopular as Mrs. Thatcher followed through on cutting school milk with more 'choice' for school dinners.
The problem is that when it comes to children in particular, nanny often does know best.
There is now a generation of parents who themselves were brought up on junk food.
Long lost are the skills born out of depression and rationing when it was said of my grandmother 'she could spread an egg over the Arms Park'.
All of us, politicians, parents, governors, teachers, dinner ladies, pupils, and even celebrity chefs should adopt the slogan 'every school a healthy school'.
More PE, no fizzy pop machines, healthy school meals and packed lunches.
It won't be easy but perhaps we can produce a generation of organic, free-range healthy children, instead of battery-farmed flabby ones.