Children 'bringing cold chips to school' for lunch

Chips Cold chips have become a feature of school packed lunches

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Some children are coming to school with cold chips or just a packet of biscuits in their lunchbox, experts say.

An online survey of 250 school, youth and health staff working with children in England suggests many go without enough to eat during the school day.

The Children's Food Trust's poll found 68.1% had seen a rise in the proportion of families struggling to feed their children in the past two years.

Lunchboxes now contain less fruit and more junk food, it suggests.

Of the staff working in schools, 47.5% said they had seen a change in the food in children's lunchboxes as household budgets got tighter.

One staff member said they had seen "poorer quality sandwich fillings, sometimes just margarine".

Another said there were "fewer processed items - more leftovers or store-cupboard items".

Start Quote

As local authorities develop their public health plans, ring-fencing funding to support children's nutrition would be a good starting point”

End Quote Linda Cregan The Children's Food Trust

But he added: "In some ways it is healthier, but some families only give cold cooked rice or cold chips with fish fingers or similar."

There were also references to more junk food, sweets and chocolate appearing in lunchboxes, and less fruit.

The snapshot survey also found 84.6% of the professionals who chose to take part in the survey had seen children without enough to eat during the course of their work.

'Enormous struggle'

Of those who said this, 84.8% said it applied to about a third of the children they worked with.

Children's Food Trust chief executive-designate Linda Cregan said too many people who worked with children were having to go above and beyond the call of duty to try to protect children from the effects of hunger and poor diet.

She added: "Of course it's a parent's responsibility to make sure their child eats well.

"But as this and other surveys have shown, the reality is that this can be an enormous struggle.

"Whether we like it or not, people working in these jobs are at the front line of helping parents on this, so they need the right support.

"As local authorities develop their public health plans, ring-fencing funding to support children's nutrition would be a good starting point.

"This could be used in all sorts of ways - training on cooking skills for local organisations working with families, subsidising good school food, breakfast clubs in schools or grub clubs for the holidays - but making that explicit commitment is vital."

Pupils at Priory School in Lewes told the BBC's School Report project their lunches were generally quite good.

"I haven't seen people with chips in their lunchboxes - but the school does do chips on Fridays though. I guess people just get that," said Flora, aged 14.

Ellen, aged 13, agreed that most people were quite healthy: "I take a piece of fruit to school every day."

School dinners were easier, quicker and nicer because "you can get hot food", according to Ossia, 14.

And 13-year-old Safi said: "Packed lunches are cheaper. I can buy in bulk and have the same thing every day."



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  • Comment number 759.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    When I was at school (50 years ago) we had to have school dinners unless there was a very good reason. Once a week we had chips(that was the best day). However, we used to burn off the calories running around the playground and walking to and from school. I don't see many overweight kids in my school photos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    Leave children alone stop the food obsessed bullying them. Some may well go though phases of only eating some limited things. It may just be parents giving them what they know will not just be thrown away. You can not have it both ways normal, junk so called food either makes you fat, or it is not nutritious! Can't be both. No one wants an elongated miserable life eating rabbit food to achieve it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    Chips are not bad you you warm or cold ... you have all put a social class onto the eating of chips ... and only a small % of you have read the article and a even smaller % understood it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 755.

    The reason behind this is not 1 problem but a mix...lack of info about what is good for us, food prices increasing, parents not doing enough to feed their kids decent meals, etc. However, what I want to point out is that this kind of article is dangerous. We should never take away the right of parents to feed their own...government can't be trusted to feed them any better and I would know!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 754.

    Cancel all child support payments and provide free school meals instead.

    Clearly 'working class' children appear to be losing this battle of nutrition as benefit claimants get free school meals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 753.

    Great, supine, protoplasmic invertebrate jellies.

  • Comment number 752.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 751.

    i work at a high school and unfortunately see the rip off meals being served and charged on a daily basis! Can you believe schools now are run as profit making canteens that try to get every penny possible out of children. i believe this is happening across the whole country and instead of offering support and subsidized meals parents are faced with cost of £20 a week yes £4 a day dinner money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 750.

    Too many people have no idea about food choices and when their children suffer action needs to be taken.Children do not know good food from bad but fussy eaters,the usual excuse,come from parents who give in to bad habits or have them too.It's taking laziness to new levels !

  • rate this

    Comment number 749.

    Look, part of this is a skills deficit. And part is a sad state of affairs for kids' nutrition.

    But another part is plain snobbery. If they'd had potato salad in their lunchbox, would that have been sniffed at? But what's the difference between fried potatoes and potatoes+mayonnaise?

    Come to that, how much difference between fish fingers+chips and ham sandwich (processed ham on rubber bread)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    This story makes me think of the mythical
    "Norfolk pensioner forced to eat cardboard because was so poor".

  • Comment number 747.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    Irrefutable proof if any were needed, that food education is not the main factor. We ALL know what is 'good' and 'bad' for us. It's an endemic failure of culture and attitude i.e. speed and laziness respectively.

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    People are using 'being poor' as an excuse to skimp out on the important things in life, such as food and hygiene, yet the same people go out and get drunk and drugged out of their faces whilst their kids are being looked after by their grandparent babysitters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    Cold chips from home, or horse burgers from the school freezer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    43 Minutes ago
    Oh dear, all these people who think their children don't matter, that meat is a good thing and give biscuits and crisps as a 'treat'
    I must be evil personified. My children have a sandwich (often ham), tomatoes, fruit...and crisps (usually the baked kind) and a choc bar in their lunchboxes. Variety and moderation - they are fit, active and healthy. Bad mummy!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    472 tio

    "It's Coaco that comes from the tree, not chocolate"

    So does an apple before it's turned into, say, apple mousse.
    Or a potato before it becomes a chip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    Sadly, the big social experiment now dictates that those on benefits get free school meals.

    Even lunchboxes are secretly filled so other children don't cotton on where school meals are not available

    When single parents earn more net income than a police constable...

    Don't worry about it, utopia is coming

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    I tried having school dinners once during secondary school, by the time you fought your way through other kids shoving their way past you, picked at the scraps left over for the year sevens and sat down to eat it you got booted out hungry because the hour was over. Waste of time and effort.


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