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Chips for lunch?

chips blog

I do enjoy that reassuringly smug feeling you can only get from reading about other people’s slack parenting habits. Today’s was a cracker – “Cold chips discovered in school packed lunch” shock.  Something clearly Must Be Done. The answer, according to a top-level inspection of school dinners commissioned by the Government, is to ban school packed lunches.

Disguising cold chips as a packed lunch makes letting Katy get away with a 99 cone with a flake and a packet of Quavers for tea on Monday night look like some kind of Nigella creation.

But I do have a sneaking sympathy for banning packed lunches at school. Not only are they a pain in the neck to make every day, they are also more expensive than school dinners (currently £2.10 a day), but when it comes to pester power nothing compares to the grief a sustained, “Can I take packed lunches?” campaign can wreak on your nerves.

And they know exactly how to make you crack. They know they can’t win on practicalities. Mums have the upper hand when it comes to convenience and nutrition, so they know they are on to a non-starter complaining about the food. But they are cleverer than that. Oh yes. They tug at your heart strings. Katy’s killer tactic about a year ago was pointing out that not only did all her friends eat packed lunch, but she ended up eating alone because “the packed lunches” ate at a separate table and then, just in case I was still holding out, she finished me off with, “And by the time I’d finished there was no time to play football.” Sob.

That did it – for two never-ending terms she was on packed lunches. Fortunately we both got sick of cheese sandwiches, sticks of cucumber and the daily row about why she wasn’t also getting a bag of Maltesers and a bottle of chocolate milk at the same time.

So yes, I can sympathise with those who want to ban packed lunches, but I’d have a lot more sympathy with it if, should the Government bring it in, they show the same concern for children’s health when it comes to smoking. At the same time as they were banging on about obesity and the killer contents of packed lunches they were busy quietly dropping plans to sell cigarettes in plain packets, as they do in Australia, in an attempt to make them less attractive to children and teenagers. Not enough evidence that it works apparently.

The story was slugged out on Radio 4 last week where the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Dr Harpal Kumar, argued that the decision to delay introducing plain packages would cost lives. “For every year of delay on a measure like this, more than 200,000 children take up smoking,” he explained. “It’s about willingness to make a decision that is going to affect the generations in the future. The tobacco industry is entirely dependent on recruiting children to take up an addiction that then stays with them for their lives. What we need to do is to stop those children becoming addicted to something that would kill half of the people who use it.”

Somehow after listening to Dr Kumar I can’t get quite so worried about Katy sneaking in a few crisps at lunchtime!

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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