Friday, 7 October 2011

The Lunchbox Saga Continues...

Hello, me again! Apologies if you find the whole lunchbox thing boring/irrelevant...this will be my last rant on the subject for a while, promise! :)

When I went to pick up Izzy from school yesterday, the teacher pulled me to one side - in front of all the other parents - to "have a word". Those of you who have children may know the embarrassment this causes - what had Izzy done now? Hit a child? Been hit? Been rude? No. It was me that was being judged this time. Ironically, considering my rant on the subject a few days ago, the lunchbox that I had sent Izzy in with yesterday had been deemed so inadequate that they'd made her a sandwich to supplement it! The culprit? Two cheese muffins.

When I make a batch of cheese muffins each Sunday for Liam's breakfasts, there are two mini ones left that I give to Izzy in her packed lunch one day. So I give her these instead of sandwiches. Unfortunately for me, Izzy decided to tell the teaching assistant that they were cakes. Now Izzy knows they are cheese muffins, they quite clearly have melted cheese on them as opposed to icing, but this teaching assistant apparently went rushing to the cook saying "this child's lunchbox is full of cakes, I need to make her a (dry salad) sandwich!"

It was unfortunate that yesterday was the day I'd decided to break my own self-imposed rules and send Izzy in with a (shop-bought *gasp*) mince pie as well. But even so, her lunchbox consisted of cherry tomatoes, a kiwi, a little yoghurt, a cheese string, 2 mini cheese cakes muffins and one mince pie. Even if the cheese muffins had been cakes, I really don't see why - for one day - the teachers couldn't have just let Izzy eat her food and had a word with me later. Instead they made her eat a sandwich on top of everything I'd given her!

When I was told about this yesterday, I was so embarrassed that it was all I could do to say that the cakes were actually cheese muffins and offer to pay for the sandwich they'd made. This morning however, I went back into school to talk about it, and about the healthy lunchbox sticker thing as well.

I get that yesterday's incident was a misunderstanding - they apparently thought I must've forgotten Izzy's sandwiches on the side (which would've meant I was planning to send her in with a lot of food!!). A bit of an over-reaction perhaps, but a one-off. I'll just make sure to label anything that doesn't fit the stereotypical sandwich + few extras lunchbox contents. I already do this with things like quinoa leftovers to save Izzy remembering what they are, but I thought the cheese muffins were pretty self-explanatory!

I have now also got to the bottom of the sticker thing though - apparently it is to discourage parents who send their child in with three chocolate bars of four frube yoghurts (!). A small amount of crisps in a tub is ok, but not a whole bag. Or a small chocolate bar, or a small piece of cake. Portion sizes seemed to be the main issue - apparently we should only be sending our (4-7 year old) children in with a sandwich made of one slice of bread as two slices is too much food for them. I always send Izzy in with a two slice of bread sandwich and, as far as I know, she always eats it all.

Apparently something is going to be written in today's newsletter about all this, so I will be interested to see what it says. I still really don't like the whole sticker thing though. As someone commented on my previous post, it is effectively punishing the children for things the parents do, and it is placing way too much importance on the contents of the lunchboxes. Children need to eat. They all have different appetites and different tastes, so I don't see how these stickers can be applied by people who really don't know them as well as their parents.

In my slightly annoyed state this morning, I took a photo of next week's school lunch menu to see how it compares:

Obviously some of the choices are ok, but some not so much. Izzy normally has school lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays, but I really don't see how the vegetarian option of "cheese puffs" (ie puff pastry and cheese) is ideal - at least they can't judge my cheese cakes muffins! And strawberry delight for pudding on Thursday, bleugh! Presumably they get around this by always having fresh fruit and yoghurt as alternative desserts, but Izzy always goes for the cake option! And what on earth are "golden fish bits"...that really doesn't sound appealing!!

Ok, I'll stop now...I'm not making much sense to myself, let alone to other people who can't see all the random thoughts swirling around my head!

I'll show you some of the foods I've been eating this week instead! :) We're away this weekend so I've pre-written a couple of posts, so tomorrow you'll see a lot more of what I've been eating (hint: it involves a lot of pumpkin) but here are couple of the photos that aren't going to be in that post...

Quinoa with roasted peppers, goats cheese and cucumber - I made a big batch of quinoa at the start of the week to make lots of lunches
Pitta bread overspilling with avocado and Brie, enjoyed in the sunshine yesterday
Toby's latest thing is trying to open the stair gate!
It seems I haven't taken as many non-pumpkin photos as I'd thought! As I haven't really kept track of what I've been eating this week, I also haven't been taking as many photos - lots of snacks have snuck in un-noticed!

What are you all up to this weekend? Any fun plans? We are off to Bath for the weekend. My Dad lives there, but will be away, so we can stay in his house. My main reason for going is to go to the Love Food Festival on Sunday, but I'm sure we'll find lots of other things to do as well! I'll tell you all about it on Monday and in the meantime, as I said earlier, I have a couple of pre-written posts lined up for Saturday and Sunday...I hope you enjoy them and have great weekends! :)


  1. im only 19 and im going to say this would have never happened in my day! i must say this all sounds pretty crazy- well done for being rational, id be raging. i cant believe they'd criticise YOU , of all people- i just know you'd prepare healthful, balanced( treats too!) lunches for any child, that would be a joy to eat- so many parents don't even care at all!
    1 slice of bread for sandwiches for youngsters( who are generally energetic, buzzy little things!)= MADNESS, 2 slices is normal geez.
    Aaaanyway all your food looks so tasty as usual:)

  2. AGH, school lunches are a nightmare, wait until she gets to school!!!! No chocolate allowed (makes them hyper!!!) but don't worry that half the kids eat a bag of crisps for lunch, and mine are so bally fussy I basically send in what they WILL eat rather than what they are "allowed" ggggrrrrr

  3. This kind of thing is exactly why I despise schools, and teachers for the most part. This pedantic, didactic sh*t (pardon the language, but this really riles me!) is a complete waste of time - the kids that need to take notice of healthy eating guidelines (and their parents) will ignore it, and the perfectionist parents and kids will just end up hating themselves, becoming paranoid and some of the kids will end up with anxiety over food and what they're eating. All while some poor little 'uns are probably getting bullied terribly and crying every day when they come home from school (err, bit of my personal experience there). Schools ALWAYS pick on the wrong people, I would have been fuming if I were you (and I'm rather irate on your behalf) and this kind of policing is anal and absolutely pathetic.

    When you asked about the guidelines I'll bet they just made them up as they went along. They're just trying to force kids to have school dinners by guilting out parents, I think. And those dishes on the school dinners menu? They're HEAVY: toad in the hole for 4 year olds? WTF?!?!? And it's fine to eat a freaking roast dinner, but two slices of bread for a sandwich? OOOHH, no, we can't have that.

    This whole thing just smacks of hypocricy: typical schools. The length of somebody's tie or skirt is more important than verbal or physical abuse amongs the kids.

    I am so happy I'm a crazy cat lady, or I'd probably get into fights with teachers if I had kids.


  4. Oh what drama! I don't have children but never knew it was this complicated these days. Surely they should just keep a bit of an eye out? Izzy looks like a perfectly healthy child and you are her need to freak out so much over lunch! I think chocolate cake should be scrubbed off their menu. Fruit or cake when given a choice? I'm an adult and I know what I'd go for!

    How irritating for you xx

  5. I could feel the anger welling up inside me as I read this post - how ridiculous are those healthy lunch rules? I agree with you that it's placing far too much emphasis on food and the kids will grow up with a complex.
    I know it's a difficult one for schools because a lot of families don't eat healthily and the kids have a poor diet, but engaging a bit of common sense would be good!

  6. It does seem they are taking it to the extreme a little bit- are they expecting ofsted I wonder? As I said before (I think- on your last post)- schools are judged on the healthiness of lunch boxes, something they have little/no control over, so I can see why they do it- they are just taking it too far! I would be interested to see how they explain it in their newsletter.
    Have a lovely weekend- I have some baking, gardening, seeing my parents on Sat and then a 10K race on Sunday :)

  7. Thanks everyone, I appreciate the outrage and/or support on my behalf! :)

    The school itself is lovely - Izzy adores her teacher, and all the people who help out at lunchtime and during the day. I don't think they're doing anything 'wrong' deliberately, they could just do with thinking about less extreme ways of dealing with things perhaps.

    I haven't got time to individually reply to everyone (sorry, past my bedtime & I haven't packed for Bath yet, oops!) but I just wanted to update you with what the school newsletter said today:

    "Packed Lunches - The school has a healthy eating policy which includes packed lunches. It would be great if parents would work with us to reduce the number of chocolate bars, crisps and sweet items in packed lunches by substituting other alternatives, e.g. fresh/dried fruit, raw vegetables, cheese."

    Not exactly much of a mention! I'm going to leave it for now though - I'm glad I spoke to the cook today as I now have "permission" to include a small portion of sweet treats in Izzy's lunch. So I will keep doing what I'm doing, providing her with (in my opinion) fairly healthy lunches (incl 2 slices of bread, lol), now with the occasional sweet muffin or flapjack thrown in :)

    Whew, that comment ended up being longer than planned!! Have a great weekend everyone, thanks again for all your comments.

  8. My daughter Meghan just turned 3 and eats sandwiches with 2 pieces of bread. What a piggy. ;-)

    It does sound like the school is taking things a bit far. I have to say that it's refreshing that a school cares enough to check the lunches, though. When I was teaching it was disgusting what some kids brought as lunch and no one ever said anything to the parents. Even more disgusting was the lunches sold at the school! Ugh.

  9. I can't believe the schools are freaking out so much, crazy!!

    I hope you have a great time at the food festival in Bath. There is the most fantastic cookie place (Bens) which you and the kids should definitely check out, I think they'd love it!!!


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