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Unhealthy lunches. - a survey to change?


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Many of our children bring the most unhealthy lunches to pre-school and we have tried requesting healthy lunches in our newsletters, menu ideas, change for life leaflets in the hopes that some parents may change their children's lunches but to no avail. As a team we have discussed a no chocolate policy but feel many of our parents will strongly object!

 

Someone has suggested doing a parental survey suggesting a no chocolate policy but setting the survey out in such a way that the parents agree. I don't know where to start does anyone one have one that they are willing to share please.

 

Thanking you

Radish

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Many of our children bring the most unhealthy lunches to pre-school and we have tried requesting healthy lunches in our newsletters, menu ideas, change for life leaflets in the hopes that some parents may change their children's lunches but to no avail. As a team we have discussed a no chocolate policy but feel many of our parents will strongly object!

 

Someone has suggested doing a parental survey suggesting a no chocolate policy but setting the survey out in such a way that the parents agree. I don't know where to start. Does anyone one have one that they are willing to share please.

 

Thanking you

Radish

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Hi radish ...i don't really think you can survey the parents in order for them to comply! a survey would suggest that they had some choice in the matter. Why do you have such a problem with chocolate? (it's high in iron you know!) I can understand a no sweets rule but lots of small items have a bit of chocolate on them...or chocolate substitute ...to be honest out of all the sweets chocolate is not that bad as it washes off the teeth quite quickly.

Is this about chocolate sandwiches? (i feel the same about jam!!) if so then i would be more specific and say something like " following advice from XXXX (website about food) we would like to request that only savoury fillings are used for sandwiches...ideas here.........

or what about rewarding parents for healthy lunchboxes...a certificate for the week maybe??????!!!

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I always felt it not really my place to tell parents what they should be giving their own child for lunch, it is their decision to make ..

 

That said when we started lunch club we had a letter we gave them about a few items we would not want in lunches and reasons for this.. we had a total ban on nuts at all times. made it easier all round as no changes would need to be made if we did,have a child with an allergy. We also had no sweets or fizzy drinks , and most parents were very happy with this as they could tell child they were not allowed them - we would check boxes and remove sweets returning them with a note to parent asking not to be given for lunch but they could save it for a treat at home.. most parents took this to include chocolate bars etc...no one ever sent a fizzy drink.. but we would have removed that too. We always had water or milk at lunch time .

The letter also included a suggested list of items to include and give variety to lunch boxes, such as different breads, fillings, wraps, veggies dips, etc..

not all would take note but many did.. always remember one box was always full of pre packaged items like brioche with a jam filling, etc.. never anything home made and all was very sweet.. we did try but that was parents choice..

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I don't feel that I have a right to say what the children at my setting bring in their lunch box. Many of our children bring a small pack of choc buttons or haribo sweets to eat at the end of the packed lunch which I think is fine as they also have sandwich, yogurt and fruit too. It is down to the parent to choose what they want their child to eat. It could be that the child only has sweets/choc as a treat in their lunch box and none when they get home- we don't know.

I also don't have a problem with jam or chocolate spread in sandwiches as some of our children are not big fans of sandwiches so if it gets them to eat something then so be it.

We provide drinks so we don't have an issue with fizzy drinks.

Its quite strange that the children at our setting with the most unhealthy lunches are the thinnest and tiniest out of them all. Yet the children who have a lunch full of fruit and salad our the biggest!

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Thanks for info and discussion, I feel sometime like I'm sitting on the fence because as a parent I would want to send a small chocolate bar in my child's otherwise healthy lunch box as a treat but some children are coming to preschool with a lunch consisting of e.g. a massive sausage roll, a bag of crisps, a chocolate mousse, strawberry yogurt, a normal size choc bar, yougurt covered raisins and then a massive choc cip cookie! Even I couldn't eat that much!

 

Thought perhaps, if the majority of parents agree through the survey to ban choc it might help to solve the problem

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We actually got pulled up on lunch boxes a couple of inspections ago as the inspector wasn't impressed with children's lunch boxes (they weren't bad actually but a couple of children had been to a party the day before and had bday cake & party bag sweets) she told us we had to educate parents and provide them with information, it was recorded as 1 of 2 areas to improve on our report :(

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I find this an extremely difficult area. I know as a parent myself I would not be happy being told what to feed my child, but I do understand that some people may need some guidance. We have one child who constantly has sweets sent in, so we just leave them in the lunch box and send them home. On the flip side, I have one child who's lunch box does not contain enough sometimes. It is normal for him to be sent with only a small wrap and three dates. I also find this a difficult subject to approach with his Mum as she is not the easiest of people to communicate with.

The fact that Ofsted pulled you up on this is terrible and I think if they had done that to us, I would have appealed.

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"continue to work in partnership with parents to promote healthy eating"

 

Found the old report and lifted the sentence, it says in report that we give an advice sheet on healthy lunch boxes as they begin staying for lunch, but that obviously wasn't enough :-/

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Yes I agree we have to be really careful about telling parents what they should put in lunch boxes. We can educate of course but not dictate.

In fact, my son due to health reasons had to have a high fat diet. His lunch was often 'unhealthy' but that was our decision on medical advice. I also think we have to be aware that we don't see what the child is eating at home so their lunch may well be part of a balanced diet.

Continuing to educate both children and parents in healthy eating (and showing we are doing this :rolleyes: ) is maybe the best approach with this dilemma.

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We provide lunch for most of our children (the cost is built into our fees) which is based on menus that we drew up using resources from the Catherine Walker Trust and the Schools Food Trust and most importantly portion sizes.

Where parents choose to provide a packed lunch (usually if they only want the 15 hour entitlement and nothing else) we "outline our expectations" and then give plenty of information about what a healthy packed lunch looks like. Like all our policies our stance on packed lunches is explained to all parents at the outset when they come to view the setting before putting their children's names down. The bottom line is if they choose to send their children to us then they have done so fully informed on how we operate. That being said we do sometimes wonder at some of our children's "builders' lunches" with enough in them to feed a small workforce and also at why "diet" products feature in children's lunch boxes too.

This is quite a useful resource if you haven't come across it before about children's portion sizes - for some of our parents it has been a real eye opener:

 

FSNT_EatingWell1-4years.pdf

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My first reaction is that it isn't altogether honest to to a survey which somehow 'leads' respondents to giving the answers the person or organisation doing the survey wants to see, especially if asking the question in a different way would bring about a different answer which is more likely to match what the respondent actually believes.

What do you want to achieve from the survey? What do you want to learn?

Perhaps you could do a survey of what you are finding in your children's lunch boxes, and publish the results in your newsletter, together with information about the likely effects on children's behaviour/ability to concentrate?

How do you manage the lunchtime routine? Do you allow the children to open their lunchbox and eat whatever is in there, in any order they like? Do you manage it so that they are encouraged to eat the healthy foods first, followed by their treats? Perhaps showing how difficult this is to do when children have a chocolate spread sandwich, a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar might make your parents think about what they're sending in their children's lunchboxes.

This is such a tricky issue - let us know how you get on!

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It never ceases to amaze me at not just the quality of lunch boxes but for some children the quantity. My husband would struggle to eat the amount some of our children bring in. My son ate jam sandwiches every day at school for most of his school life. Even at high school- where if he hadn't of had them he would have had burger and chips every day from the canteen, a lesser of two evils and his diet was always good.

We have a few children that bring in cold greasy nuggets or chips some days, we have one child that brings a microwave burger that has already been microwaved but really feel it is up to parents what they give their children to eat. We do ask for no fizzy drinks (for obvious reasons) no sweets and always have a blanket ban on nuts or nut products. It's very difficult and extremely unfair for Ofsted to pull you up on what your parents put in their childrens lunchboxes- as Jazzy1 says we can educate but cannot dictate. We usually send out a flyer with suggestions on 'healthy' lunchboxes when they start and again throughout the year. This along with regular reminders is really all we can do- otherwise it really does start to become something that parents just think ' oh goodness, here we go again'

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We run a lunch club, and have encountered some lovely lunch boxes over the last few years.

We go round the table as the children are opening their box and remind them to eat the healthy things first, if there is a lot in the box we take some healthy stuff out,and close the box for the time being, so they are not over whelmed by the quantity.

As a parent I always used to put what I called 'packed lunch chocolate' in the boys boxes, so that would mean a penguin type bar or a small kit kat.

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If lunchboxes are not refrigerated or kept cool enough, jam or chocolate spread sandwiches might be a lot more appetising than some other fillings!

 

I used to make a point of examining the children's lunchboxes when we were covering healthy eating in the classroom, to encourage the children to identify their "healthy" options. They loved to show the contents and identify the food groups.

Some children are picky eaters as I am sure we are all aware and it is important not to make these children feel inadequate or self conscious. Likewise parental choice should be valued. When my elder son was small, he ate a limited range of food and it was not helpful when he decided he wasnt eating what I provided as it was unhealthy.

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