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Packed lunch argument lacks punch

While I agree with the sentiments expressed in the recent column "Making a meal of lunch" (16 August), I cannot help but feel that Mike Kent has missed some key and valid reasons for parents to select packed lunches over school meals.

First, some children have special dietary needs. Look at a typical primary lunch menu and tell me how a child with lactose intolerance or coeliac disease would get a proper, balanced and safe meal. In short, they wouldn't. Second, there is a rare breed of working parent who cooks a hot, nutritious family meal every day. Little Jimmy will become obese if he eats two hot meals plus pudding daily.

I fall into both categories. My son's school couldn't or wouldn't provide non-dairy alternatives, leaving him stuck with a plain baked potato and salad as the only guaranteed dairy-free meal. And despite having two working parents, my son eats a fresh, hot meal every evening with the family.

So, while some parents abuse packed lunches, I suspect the majority have good reasons for providing them. I, for one, will continue to do so.

Nia Faulder, Biology lecturer, INTO Manchester, wife and mother of one.

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