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Did A Nine-Year Old Girl Expose The Truth About School Meals?

Background

“Never Seconds” was a blog setup by Scottish schoolgirl Martha Payne, along with her father, with the aim of raising £2,000 for school meal funding in the third world country of Malawi. The blog, if you have not heard about it by now, involved Martha taking photographs of her school meals and rating them on health value, tastiness, and other factors, including, hilariously and awfully at the same time, the number of hairs in her school meal.

Criticism

There was much criticism aimed at local authorities once the pictures became public knowledge, especially as there has been much pomp and circumstance in recent months about how much the general nutritional values of school meals have improved. Clearly, the vast majority of what was photographed on the plate was anything but healthy and nutritious, and for a few days it became the talking point of the whole country. Parents everywhere were mortified that their children could potentially be eating food like this on a day-to-day basis.

The level of criticism increased when photographs of school meals from other countries later emerged, showing large portions and healthy, nutritional recipes.

Responses

Most of the response that came from the criticism was related to the choice of foods children have at mealtimes. As a parent myself, I can vouch for how frustrating it is when your child always takes the unhealthy option, and arrives home at three in the afternoon complaining of being hungry. While choice is undoubtedly a good thing, I would question whether or not in the case of children so young, Martha herself is nine, it is just common sense to tell children what to eat. Give a nine year old a choice between vegetables and burger and chips, and it is obvious what they are going to choose.

Clearly there is a point to be made on both sides of the argument here, in that there is obviously a lot more work to be done to make school meals of a higher general nutrition level, and also ensuring that all options are healthy and wholesome.

Alternatives

For parents who do not wish for their children to eat school meals, they do of course have the option of sending their child to school with a packed lunch. Unfortunately, this is not financially viable in the case of many families, with children eating school provided lunches out of necessity and using local authority provided luncheon vouchers.

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