school meal Educational

School Meals – ban desserts

School meals may ban desserts.  Scottish news yesterday reported that Dentists are calling for a ban on school desserts, to help reduce tooth decay.  At last! This is a matter close to my heart and something I’ve pushed for over a number of years.

About 6 years ago when my eldest child was in nursery they started to offer a starter instead of a dessert a couple of times a week, I remember the staff telling me that the children were asking for their dessert and staff had to explain they had a starter instead.  For me this just enforced how important this scheme was. Why are we conditioning children at such a young age to always expect a pudding after their main course – its just wrong and does not fit with our healthy eating messages.

Then a few years ago when I worked in Public Health in Leeds we piloted swapping the dessert for a starter on two days a week – following on from the good work some nurseries are setting up.  Unfortunately the scheme was not so popular with teachers and children, who preferred sponge and custard and the scheme was scrapped. Feeding obesity and tooth decay rather than improving it.  In Leeds we also have the worst dental decay in young children than the rest of the UK – so this scheme is very much needed.

School meals were first introduced as a two course meal, back in war times when it aimed to provide the majority of calories a child needed in one meal.  Now even with food poverty, we need to ensure children receive a nutrient dense meal and prevent empty calories and excess sugar.

I really hope this scheme is implemented and we can practice what we teach in healthy eating. I believe that a starter rather than a dessert 2-3 times a week would really help educate children about healthy eating, work towards reducing dental decay and obesity.

Read the BBC News report: