Jamie Oliver

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#1 Mon 23 Jan 12 12:13pm

Greggj

Member
Member since Mon 23 Jan 12

Advice needed

I did a google search looking for advice and ended up here and it seems as good a place as any to ask for help.
I recently found out that the school that both my children go to (secondary) offer at both break times around lunch (mid am & mid pm) an outlet that sells Pizza slices, bacon rolls or a pannini. These sell for £1 and apparently have a huge queue. I have been concerned about my childrens weight for a while and think I have found the root cause.
Apparently, these are available every day not just once a week and according to my children 3/4 of the school take advantage.
I have a bit of a dilema in so far as I have banned my kids from eating them but I am not there to stop them.
My early research suggests this goes against all food policies in schools and I realise that in a school that has nearly 1500 kids, we are talking a huge revenue stream for the school and I feel a little concerned about how to deal with it. If I had concerns with my childs education, I would talk to school but this seems to be something on a different scale.
Does anyone have any views on whether this is indeed breaking any rules and where I could pass on my concerens to a larger body to deal with?

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#2 Mon 23 Jan 12 12:43pm

minerva

Forum champ
Occupation Walking the Old Ways
From Living in the Wild Woods
Member since Wed 16 Jan 08

Re: Advice needed

You don't say where you live.........so advice can only be very generalised.

For instance, if you live in Britain, you have several prongs of attack:
1) Contact your Education Department at your local County Hall........ask for the food guidelines for the school your children are at(give them the name of the school,& the ages of your children.....certain ages might have specific guideline
s)..........get it in writing.
also.....
2) Contact the school secretary of the school & also ask her for the school policy & guidelines re:food (you want this in writing)
Once you have compared the two documents you can then:
If there are breaches of the policy guidelines you can
Go back to the school & demand the school policy changes.
Go back to County Hall & rat on the school.
If there are no breaches of the policy guidelines you can
3) Request changes through the School Governers (who have quite a lot of power as a body)
4) Rally any parents as concerned as you are & lobby both the school & County Hall.

I have worked for a Local Authority & have seen first hand how an organised & methodical lobbying of policy can have a good result.
It's hard work but if you really want to do something, it's the only way.

If you are from another country these general rules will still apply but you may have to go about it in a slightly different way.
Good Luck to you............come back & let us know how you get on.

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#3 Mon 23 Jan 12 1:30pm

koukouvagia

Forum champ
From New York
Member since Fri 12 Dec 08

Re: Advice needed

I agree, this is a frightening issue.  I would not want my kids to have a daily option for junk food at their school, especially considering that it is such an easy and cheap option.  Is there a parents association at your kids' school?  If so you can bring this topic up for discussion.  Perhaps draw a petition with the other parents to address the issue.  Once you have some support from other parents you can approach the school with your concerns.

You must find out if this is a school-run service or coming from an outside vendor.  At the school I worked there would be ice cream vendors that would pull up to the curb at the end of school and kids would rush to it.

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#4 Mon 23 Jan 12 3:22pm

mummza

Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Advice needed

First of all welcome to the forum .
I am approaching this from a different perspective so bear with me for a few minutes !...

Greggj wrote:

I did a google search looking for advice and ended up here and it seems as good a place as any to ask for help.
I recently found out that the school that both my children go to (secondary) offer at both break times around lunch (mid am & mid pm) an outlet that sells Pizza slices, bacon rolls or a pannini. These sell for £1 and apparently have a huge queue. I have been concerned about my childrens weight for a while and think I have found the root cause.

If this is an outlet that your children go to then I presume that it is not on school premises and is a store outside the school grounds.
I would think that is not just a slice of pizza , or a pannini or a bacon roll that is causing the issue , but it is adding to it.
Do they also but a fizzy drink with the sandwich ?

Greggj wrote:

Apparently, these are available every day not just once a week and according to my children 3/4 of the school take advantage.I have a bit of a dilema in so far as I have banned my kids from eating them but I am not there to stop them.

I hate to say this but the more you ban things from young people the more that they want to do it !!

Greggj wrote:

My early research suggests this goes against all food policies in schools and I realise that in a school that has nearly 1500 kids, we are talking a huge revenue stream for the school and I feel a little concerned about how to deal with it. If I had concerns with my childs education, I would talk to school but this seems to be something on a different scale.

School lunch breaks are these days often less than an hour, if the figure of 3/4 of the school goes to this retailer then you are talking about 1,125 young people who go the retailer.
This seems to be a gross exageation to me ,as to serve that many young people , get their order,if its a pannini , it needs to be cooked  , order bagged  , take their money and give change where needed would take quite a long time and many of the young people would not have time to eat and get back to class.
either that or its a large concern with an enormouse amount of staff.

Greggj wrote:

Does anyone have any views on whether this is indeed breaking any rules and where I could pass on my concerens to a larger body to deal with?

If this is an outside concern and not connected with the school then , they are quite entitled to sell to whom ever goes into the shop.
I do not know what the policy of the area that your families school is in , but many schools near where I live have a healthy eating policy.
Having said this it remains difficult when it comes to things like packed lunches as in primary schools its the parents who often pack the school lunch for their children but often at secondary school level the young person often packs their own lunch or buys it at school, on the way to school or from a reatiler close to the school at break time. As  you know peoples ideas of a healthy lunch varies enormously.

What I would like to ask is ...
I am presuming that you live in the UK as you mentioned £1

Do you cook fresh meals each day for their supper so that you know they are getting a good and ballanced diet at home ?

Do they drink many fizzy drinks and if they do are they the diet , sugar free drinks that they drink , or do they drink a lot of cartoned juice ?

Are they very active , or, are they happier ( for example ) at the computer ?

At secondary schools , it is generally just the upper school that are allowed off the school grounds at break times , at the school my 4 children went to , I had to sign a paper that gives them permission to leave the school grounds at break time ....

Is this the same at the school where your family go ?
Did you have to sign a form to allow them to leave the premises ?

My children used to vary between a cooked school lunch , taking a packed lunch , or going to the local baguette shop where they sold pizza, pies and baguettes. The fillings of these would vary and I had to trust then to make the right choices.As far as I know they did not eat many crisps , as they werent that fond of them ,and we switched them over to the diet kind of drinks when they were younger. I do know that mostly they drank water .
They used to walk too and from school ( about 20 minutes each way )
I did cook from fresh food for them every day so I knew that they ate plenty of fresh vegetables etc and that way I knew they were getting enough of the right foods.

Most schools sell things like baguettes and slices of pizza , but this depends on the school , the education authority and the schools policy. things like pizza might not be sold every day.
These days you can look on luine and see the schools menu and the prices.

If you remain concerned then you could make an appoitment to see the schools head teacher or one of the school goveners to raise your concerns.

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#5 Mon 23 Jan 12 4:28pm

Greggj

Member
Member since Mon 23 Jan 12

Re: Advice needed

Thank you for responses. I wanted to clarify some basic info and then come back a bit later with some other thoughts (and almost certainly questions)
We are talking UK, Hertfordshire. This is within the school building, not certain if its outside caterers but it is definitely within the school gates.
I have only in the last week found out about this. I take on board the comment about banning completely and feel I have a problem more with one of my children than the other. It just so happens that I have had a slight concern about potential food issues with the child I think the ban is pointless with.
That child said to me that they had started having the panini anyway, as if that was somehow better. I checked the calories and that seems the worst of the 3.

I need to clarify something that I may not have made clear. This is not lunchtime. That is a completely separate time and lunch is within the school. Apart from not being that great, I have no issue with the lunch.
What I am talking about is a every mid morning break about 10.30 and an afternoon one at about 2.30. "Playtime"!!

My other child told me this weekend that it was about 3/4. I agree, I don't think that's possible but we are not talking a small number. it's obviously very popular.

This was a document I also found, which is where I got the standards from - food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/foodpolicygovernor2.pdf

Excuse the pun but I need to digest the other useful info and take action. Thank you very much...I thought I was a bit alone for a bit in my horror of this

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#6 Mon 23 Jan 12 5:21pm

Kye

Forum super champ
Member since Fri 04 Apr 08

Re: Advice needed

Is that pizza van, although within the school gates, acting independately or has it some sort of contract with the school.

Is the school actually allowed to have individual vendors on its premises. With the fortune this vendor is making every day, it would also be an idea to check the company on the net to see if it has a Registered Natiional Tax Nį.....

So your children have breakfast, then mid morning pizza, then lunch, let alone health problems... it must also be costing you a fortune x 2 and say 20 days a month?

Do you ever cook with your children...get them to make their own pizza with just £2.00, certainly they would find it so much better than the thing that is so popular at school.

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#7 Mon 23 Jan 12 10:34pm

mummza

Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Advice needed

I think that I would first approach the school head teacher and depending on the response possible the schools goveners , there will be a parent representative on the governing body.

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#8 Tue 24 Jan 12 3:22pm

koukouvagia

Forum champ
From New York
Member since Fri 12 Dec 08

Re: Advice needed

mummza wrote:

I would think that is not just a slice of pizza , or a pannini or a bacon roll that is causing the issue , but it is adding to it.
Do they also but a fizzy drink with the sandwich ?

.....
I hate to say this but the more you ban things from young people the more that they want to do it !!

.....
If this is an outside concern and not connected with the school then , they are quite entitled to sell to whom ever goes into the shop.

Oh boy, I have to vehemently contest these points.  Firstly this parent has obvious concern for her children's health and feels like this is a contributing factor.  I agree that it is hard enough to try to persuade kids to eat healthily without having some outside vendor offer them goodies every day.

I don't think banning these foods is what this parent has in mind.  The point is why have that option offered to them everyday????  When one intends to eat healthily they shouldn't stock their pantry with potato chips and them attempt to avoid them.  You must clear out the unhealthy choices from your path or in this case, from your children's path.  Why not offer healthier options on a daily basis such as apples for example?  Or yogurt?  or veggies sticks with hummus?  MUST it be pizza?  It is hard to avoid these things when they're right in front of you.  By removing this vendor you remove the necessity to choose.

Your last sentence is the most concerning to me.  When it comes to children I think as parents we have a responsibility to step in and make changes when we can.  Making money should not be the only concern.  Sure, a vendor has the right to go and set up shop where he pleases but these vendors are targeting kids because they know kids will go to them.  Why should some pizza vendor make money off MY kid on a daily basis?  I don't want my kid exposed to the opportunity to buy cheap junk food and if I can do anything about it I will.  We live in a society where children are obese and are now destined to live shorter life spans than their parents.  Don't you think that parents and schools should do something to stop that?

A few years ago NY State passed a law to remove vending machines from schools that contained sugary drinks and snacks.  They have now been replaced with vending machines that contain water and fruit juice.  A small step but I do not feel that parents owe any responsibility to snack food companies to cater to our childrens' every whim.

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#9 Tue 24 Jan 12 3:45pm

Greggj

Member
Member since Mon 23 Jan 12

Re: Advice needed

I have taken the choice of speaking to Local Government and getting the policy and will then compare that with the schools one and then work out if selling kidís pizza, rolls and Paniniís fits into either. If it doesnít, I will then make a plan.

Just so you know my motivation. Well, firstly itís to do with my children, one of whom I have been a little nervous about weight issues anyway. Also, I am really disappointed (that's the mild version) a school is doing this. I don't know about you but break time for me was running about like a nutter playing with friends and as I got older, it was interacting with my peers learning life skills. I'm sure I wasnít concerned with food in break time as I'd either just had breakfast or just had lunch and dinner was only a couple of hours away at most. Food, simply wasnít an issue at break time.
At my kidís school, many kids are now swapping this for standing in a queue and then quickly consuming about 350 calories before they have to rush into their next lesson.

As I type, I am really annoyed by this. (By the way, this school has a pretty good reputation)

Again, thanks for responses. I will update on what happens

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#10 Tue 24 Jan 12 3:57pm

minerva

Forum champ
Occupation Walking the Old Ways
From Living in the Wild Woods
Member since Wed 16 Jan 08

Re: Advice needed

Greggj wrote:

I have taken the choice of speaking to Local Government and getting the policy and will then compare that with the schools one and then work out if selling kidís pizza, rolls and Paniniís fits into either. If it doesnít, I will then make a plan.

I'm glad you have decided to go down this route, but I would advise you to also speak to the Chair of your School Governers (the School Secretary has to supply these contact details on your request, no questions asked, it is your right to have them as a parent of a child at that school...........if you don't want to alert the school to what you are doing, you can get the same info from the Local Authority Ed. Department).
It would be useful to find out where they stand on this issue so you know how much support you will get if you decide to involve youself/other parents in a policy change.
The more people on your side, the easier it is to fight a good battle.

Stay in touch. We are firmly on the side of good food in schools.

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