As appetising as a dodgy chicken nugget

7th September 2001 at 01:00
You ran a story recently (TESS, August 24) about school dinners under the headline "Ministers snub meals for all". As a working parent whose child is not entitled to free meals, but who is happy to pay for a decent hot lunch for a young and active growing boy, I have been forced to snub school meals and against all my principles resort to packed lunches.

When I was a child, we had hot lunches, supervised by a dinner lady who ensured that we ate what we were given. It was, admittedly, sometimes over-cooked and perhaps did not retain its full nutri-tional value, but it did encourage us to eat a substantial, balanced meal in the middle of the day.

Over the past years I have been dismayed by the monotonous school diet of chicken nuggets, hot dogs and pizza. Having read in the press earlier this year about some of the ingredients that get into processed chicken nuggets - with unconvincing rebuttals from the Food Standards Agency - I felt compelled to withdraw my child from school dinners.

Now I face a situation where he and his friends eat packed lunch together, in a race to see who can get out to the playground first. There seems to be little supervision or encouragement to get them to eat the healthy food that is provided, with the result that half-eaten sandwiches and apples come home untouched.

I welcome the news that the Scottish Executive is taking action to enhance nutritional standards, because it seems to me that schools and authorities with their sponsored "Fuel Zones" have abdicated all responsibility for ensuring that children receive the kind of fuel they actually require to get them through a working afternoon.

Joan Grant Great Western Road Glasgow

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