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Hi all,

We had a staff meeting tonight to review our Snacks, lunch and food policy.

 

The main focus that the discussion took was about contents of lunch boxes with regard to Healthy eating ( outcome being healthy). Recently we have noticed that although most children now bring a piece of fruit in their lunch boxes the rest of their food is quite unhealthy, such as chocolate spread sandwiches, lunchables or are they called snackables?, lots of processed foods, chocolate bars etc. Also some children arrive with enough food to feed the whole group :o

 

We discussed whether we had a right to tell parents what not to include in lunch boxes, ie: crisps, chocolate, sweets etc.

 

We have decided to produce a graph, to show a visual representation of what we witness each day. Tomorrow I shall write down every single item of food that is in all the lunch box, including the number: ie 5 packets of wotsits, 4 apples etc and the number of children attending lunch. next to the items of food I shall grade them with a star for nutritional value.

 

With this graph we shall send a questionairre to ask parents their opinions about what they would like in our policy. Will they agree that crisps are banned? What do they think a healthy lunch box should include or not include? What quantity of food do they think their child needs to eat at lunchtime ( reminding them that healthy snacks are available morning and afternoon at our snack bar) What factors affect their decisions in what goes in their childs lunch box ie: cost, time, likes/dislikes etc.

Do they think we should be a nut free zone all the time or only if we know that a child attending is allergic? etc etc

 

My question to you is, do any of you out there ban any foods from lunchboxes and if yes how do parents respond to this ban?

 

Peggy

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No we don't, Peggy, although we have had serious concerns. We had a strong reaction from some parents when we tried to totally ban squash. Our position was weakened by having low numbers at the time. We do send home a letter about healthy eating which has been phrased as positively as possible.

 

The issues around parents, children and food are very complex, aren't they? Some parents seem so relieved that their child will eat anything at all that they almost don't mind what it is. Others interrogate their children when they collect them 'Why didn't you eat your sausage roll?'

 

I think your approach is a very interesting one. You're certainly adapting a 'partnership' approach! Do keep us all up to speed with how it goes!

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No, we don't ban any foods either. Although we send home any sweets that are in lunch boxes and they tend not to put them in again. Some parents pack lots of food, too much for the child and as we always send home any uneaten or half eaten food, parents can see how much is actually eaten - then they send less.

Some children have jam or chocolate spread and as you say Peggy, Lunchables, choc biscuits,etc. but others have cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, and healthy fillings in sandwiches or pitta bread with fruit or yoghurt. We have noticed a change for the better over the last year. (Please don't ask what I had in my packed lunch today though!!! :o )

 

Sue J

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Yeah, Peggy, we ban chocolate from lunch boxes. Some parents try and sneak it in and we have had the occasional tantrum but generally the parents are fine with it. I think your idea is great - think I might ave a chat with the head tomorrow...

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I do understand all the concerns re healthy eating but as a parent I would have taken great exception to being told what my child should eat. I think it is very important that children come to school with a box of food that they will eat and in sensible quantities. lt is very daunting for little children to be faced with a box with choices and some are very fussy eaters. My own children found lunchtimes at school quite difficult and their school had a policy of only allowing one item to remain uneaten. Also food deterioriates quite alot in lunchboxes so some options are better than others although they might not be classified healthy per se.

 

As the mother of a child with migraine (and associated epilepsy) that can be traced to aspartame as a trigger I am very anti low sugar drinks, especially the toothkind varieties.

 

I certainly dont think fizzy drinks or sweets are acceptable but I also think we have to be very careful when dictating what is or is not healthy.

 

sorry if this is garbled!!

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we have banned sweets and choc.what we do is have lunch club golden rules -

you have to eat sandwiches first (not necessaraly all of them)

Then some fruit/vegetable

then yoghurt

we find the children are usually too full to eat anything else!

or if they do open their crisps they have at least had something nutritious!

we are covering healthy eating next half term and intend doing a graph with the childrens names that stay for lunch club and laminate photos of healthy food for them to record what they had at lunch tha tday and then of which they get a healthy lunch club badge

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Hi Peggy,

I attended a presentation last night on "Are you ready for the new Ofsted inspection" and in the pack I received a greater emphasis is place on healthy eating and encouraging the children and parents about this this.

 

It is a diffcult one - we have tried to ban sweets but they still keep appearing - your idea sounds like a good one. We only have two lunch days but for the rest of the term I shall delegat a staff memeber to record whats in there lunch box.

 

 

Sue

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What an interesting thread :D

 

We do not ban any foods in lunch boxes (but oh! those lunchables - yuck!)

 

I echo Susan's view and as a parent would take exception to being told what I could and couldn't put in my child's lunch box.

 

I fully support the promotion of healthy eating but feel some parents could be easily (and understandably) offended. In some cases I can think of it would knock their confidence as a parent.however, sensitively the subject was approached

 

I feel that whilst we are looking at and criticising lunch boxes we are perhaps looking at children's diets in isolation if that makes sense!

 

We have a child that I know has a 'proper' breakfast each morning, a cooked meal with fresh veg in the evening but what is in his lunch box ? mainly 'junk'!

 

The contents of the lunch box surely has to be looked at within the context of their diet as a whole? So the child who has an 'unhealthy' lunch the two days a week he stays at pre-school but has a very healthy diet the rest of the time, is it really that bad?

 

Sorry Peggy this is probably no help at all :o I admire your approach and will await the outcome with interest

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Wow, thanks for all your replies,

I agree weightman it is a contentious issue, and Susan, I, as a parent wouldn't want to be told what to feed my child, in fact my son lived on weetabix, tomato sauce sandwiches and marmite and lettuce sandwiches until he was about 6 yrs old ( never had any of the childhood illnesses, colds, measles or chicken pox and has only ever had to go to the doctor once in his whole life for suspected appendicitus when he was 22 yrs old). Smiles We are doing a review for our Quality assurance module, and have considered the Ofsted focus on the outcome Being Healthy. Carol My managers sons school has just had healthy eating week, they banned quite a few foods and she was "put out" by being told what to provide. They also banned any drink other than natural fruit juice, luckily this is only for a week, as cost implications were bought into our discussion. Healthy eating is not necessarily cheap. :( We send out Health newsletters once a term and have leaflets, posters etc too. ASPK we have banned chocolate but still get it, especially during the summer when it all melts :(Hali Do the parents generally follow your expectations?

Andreamay, I like the idea of your "healthy lunch club badge" :D

Sue J So what did you have for lunch? I had marmite and lettuce sandwiches ( white bread). One of my staff is not keen on us banning crisps, she likes them every day, we will of course have to practice what we preach should we decide to ban certain foods.

 

 

We want to try and be positive and suggest healthy foods that will enable energy ( but not hyperactivity- however quite a few children are very lethargic in the afternoons, possibly due to the lack of daylight hours). I'd like lunchtimes that are not too controlled by adults in the sense of you must eat the savoury 1st, then pudding, then have any treats. We discussed the idea that if all the food in the box was a healthy option then it could be the childs choice what they ate first ( as all of it is nutritional) Quite a few of our younger children tend to prefer to eat their yoghurt 1st :oxD (I suppose it all goes to the same place). We were thinking of suggesting that each child only needs 3 items a sandwiche (or alternative), a desert such as yoghurt and a peice of fruit. We offer healthy snacks if they are hungry after lunch as part of our cafe snack bar.

 

I have thought of providing "cold" lunches, a salad bar type approach, with a choice of cold meats, egg, cheese, salad and vegetables, then yoghurt and fruit for desert. My hubby ( who for those who don't know, is a Master chef) says that I should steer well clear of providing food because of all the health, hygiene and safety legislation etc, especially if storing and preparing food for others consumption.

I did visit a Montessori group a few years ago and the children prepared a salad lunch and served it. There are so many ways to prsent salads, I don't think the children will get bored. We have also noticed that some children have the same foods in their lunchboxes every day, one boy has had peanut butter rolls every day for a year, his mum says he won't eat anything else, well, like some of you we send food home that isn't eaten, and his rolls go home everyday. :(

 

Could go on for hours on this subject................, thanks for replies, I'll let you know what response I get from consulting the parents.

 

peggy

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Hi Geraldine, I was writting my epic whilst your reply was added, thanks for your very sensible consideration on the matter, I must admit we didn't even consider or discuss the "whole picture", definately "food for thought" :D

 

peggy

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Hi Peggy

 

We provide cooked lunches on the premises and so we do not allow children to bring any type of packed lunch unless their is a specific reason for it. We include lunch in the cost, so many parents are happy to just allow us to feed their little ones.

 

However I had a little child once (under two) who was being allergy tested so for a few days mum wanted to bring his lunch. I was astounded at what she brought. Chocolate Sandwiches, Banana, two yoghurts, kit kat, wotsits, babybel, jelly sweets and a tangerine! Needless to say all but the sandwiches, yogurt and fruit went back home. I explained upon pick up that I felt our lunch option that day would have been a healthier option and more allergy safe.

 

I even get kids arriving in the morning eating crisps or sweets. The option then is either leave them in your bags or put them in the bin, they do not come into the nursery play rooms at all.

 

Good luck with your policy, it sounds like its certainly well thought out and I'm sure that it will be a sucess - after all its all for the benefit of keeping their kids healthy.

 

Nicola x

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What I would really like to see is an extension of the fruit/veg scheme to all the preschool establishments. Some children may have already decided they don't like certain things, and won't try them, by school entry. We need support to start them earlier.

 

I've also considered contacting one of the celebrity chefs to see if we could have some input as well as the schools. I'd go for someone like Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall ideally, so I could be sure there'd be a tie-up between what we eat & what we grow/produce, as so many children - and adults - have lost this. But that's a very personal position, I suppose, & I haven't followed it through yet!

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Hi,

 

I feel that lunchboxes often leave you feeling between a rock and a hard place. The children are in your care and so you want them to have the best food in packed lunches, but then the parents send in stupid things (like chocolate bars on the hottest day of the year!) and don't seem to understand that it's no good to the child if it's a squishy mush! (no offence to any parent reading this!)

 

I had a parent who sent in a tin of canned fish (can't remember what sort, but there were still bones in it!) and that was it for her child, who was in all day. The child ended up having two mouthfulls and declaring that she disn't like it (no surprise). When i talked to the parent, she got very defensive and irritable and couldn't see why it wasn't approprate for her child :oxD

 

If the children are goin home after lunch, then it's not as vital, as i'm sure most of them then eat at home as well, but it definately worrying how many children attend nursery/pre-school with crisps, chocolate, sweets and jam/chocolate sandwiches.

 

I do agree that you need to look at the whole diet. Maybe you could do a week home/nursery diary, where the parents and children record what they had for breakfast, lunch and tea, and while at nursery they could record what they have eatten and discuss it at cirle time, this ten allows everyone to see what they eat and could be eatting.

 

Be very interested to know how you get on :D

 

Lu

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Peggy, I had a ham sandwich with lettuce, cucumber and mayo, raw carrot and a satsuma (good so far?) Then, squeezed into the lunch box was a big yummy custard tart !!! :o which I tried to eat without any one seeing, but it didn't work!

 

Sue J

 

ps By the way, it was an individual custard tart - not a large one!!!

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We "suggest" to parents that food in lunch boxes should be kept simple-sandwiches, a yoghurt and a piece of fruit-and on the whole most of our parents do stick with this. Some bring other things like salad foods and those yoghurt coated fruits. We also ask that sandwiches are of a child friendly size! Last year we had one little girl who never had her sandwiches cut up for her. No big deal for us to do it for her but at first she really struggled with two slices of bread from a large loaf slapped together with some sort of filling!

We occasionally get the ready done stuff, more last year than this, and I have to say that the children don't seem to like them that much-they look perfectly disgusting to me!

So, no we don't ban anything and don't feel we are in a position to do so. But since we have asked parents not to send in chocolate or sweets for birthday celebrations they have stopped appearing in lunch boxes too.

Linda

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The only thing that concerns me is the amount of food that is put in some boxes! Last year we had one girl who would lay her food out and would take up half the table! She attended lunch 3 times a week and every time it would include a large bap with cheese spread, packet of crisps, dairylea lunchable, pepperami (large!), penguin, dairylea triangle and a milkshake drink. She ate everything, which made me concerned. if she's eating that much now, what will she be eating through school age and into adult life! Her stomach is going to get used to vast amounts and will expect more as time goes on.

I must say, that since we introduced fruit at snack time, this has certainly made parents think more about what they now include in their child's lunch box. They still bring in the odd chocolate bar, but is more balanced and as previous posts say, you do have to look at the wider picture.

I think posters, books and the occassional newsletter, applauding the 'healthy' snacks will go down well, it's just a question of educating them all (myself included!) I've lost 6lb this week 'cos I'm looking at what I take to work (we sit with the children for lunch), so promoting healthy eating is good and hopefully I will be a size 12 by the time this group of children leave!!!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

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I try and help the parents decide what to put in the childrens lunch boxes by talking to the children about healthy eating. I have been doing this for many years now so children and parents just seem to accept this. If new children do bring a chocolate bar or sweets the other children normally tell them that its not really allowed. The child isn't prevented from eating it by the adults. All adults eat healthy lunches with the children. This is helped by the fact that one of my helpers is diabetic, 2 are on permanent diets and I just don't like sweet things (except children of course)

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Hi

 

As a Mum, I would not like to be told what I could/or could not put in my child's lunch (or what they could put in it as they do their own). With all the information about at the moment who is to say what is healthy and what isn't. I also don't think there is anything wrong with a chocolate bar so long as there is a balance of other food groups. Having said that I have stopped buying crisps for them!

 

In our group we offer a variety of healthy snacks, we are good role models too at Lunch club, we too ask children to eat their savoury/sandwiches, followed by yoghurt, fruit, and lastly the cake or chocolate bar. We encourage them to try different foods and eat fruit etc during cooking activities. We do ban any nut products even though we don't currently have anyone with a nut allergy at lunch club. Wouldn't want anyone to feel embarrassed if we did have and we had to suddenly ban nut products.

 

After that I think it is up to parents to decide.

 

Deb

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Hi all,

I was fed up with all the rubbish in packed lunch boxes. I had one child who came in with, dairy lee dunkers with bacon bits, jam sandwich, pkt wotsits, tube of smarties and a carton of very sweet nasty sugary sherbet drink.

I decided that I couldn't tell my parents what to put in luches but devised a letter with packed lunch ideas. Sandwich/pitta/naan/tortilla with a suitable filling such as ham/cheese/tuna etc, bread sticks, crackers, fruit, dried fruit, water bottle or fruit juice and some other healthier options.

I also stated that although the child may be a fussy eater at home, within the setting they are not.

I had the parent of the child mentioned above stating that he wouldn't eat anything but jam sandwiches, wouldn't touch fruit as he gags.

I explained to her that we offer fruit such as satsumas/apples and bananas and veg sticks at snack time and he always eats them His favourite snack with us is crackers and cheese.

So long and short of it is, mum put in healthy luch, child ate it and now I have a newly educated mum.

 

Net x

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  • 3 weeks later...

hi,

 

sorry late as usual..... half term and sick child!!!!

 

at my preschool we have entered in to the NHS Healthy Eating Award scheme for under fives. It is a seven year scheme but is simple to start and maintain.

Basically you are set targets by your local nhs dental/nutrition services each year to provide evidence of how you action them in your setting. So far we are in year three and doing well.

This allows us to promote healthy eating within the setting and parents are alot more willing to follow our lead, again even to complimenting us for getting their child to try fresh nutritional produce at home.

We don't run a lunch club but the change since we started has been well received. Why not enquire about it in your area?

 

Plus we have a nice folder, loads of advice, parental handouts and training and resources to use etc, and a yearly certificate to display on noticeboard!!!! lookin' good........

 

kizzy xx :o

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This is a really interesting topic and one that I cannot really add to as it has been said before - I would love to see a copy of your questionnaire Peggy when you have devised it - I also think that advice to parents on interesting items to put in would be good. As a parent I sometimes just lost the will to live when creating 3 lunch boxes a day and took the easy option.

 

As for banning crisps - well like many others - I think my life would fall apart - crisps are a gift from heaven followed by chocolate - moderation doesn't some into it - the bigger the better!!!!

Nikki

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Dare I say it - I think an element of hypocrisy can creep in when we expect children to keep to standards we don't keep ourselves. And I suppose by nature some of us are more controlling or more empowering. I think we have to go for a sensible balance, with healthy eating in the light of whatever the current advice is [although the frequency of changes can be disheartening] and treats occasionally rather than the norm. That's why I probably would be uncomfortable with a total ban.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have children that stay at lunchtime specifically because they don't eat, so I do spend alot of time discussing lunchbox contents. We do not allow sweets or chocolate at all. If we feel that the food coming in is not the best then we try and talk to the parent on why they have put that particular food in. I can see it from both sides as my son has a diet that is atrocious and I feel constantly embarrassed aboutit. I even went into school and spoke to the head master when they became a healthy eating school. I think it all comes back to the partnership and talking to parents to get a happy eatable lunchbox. (if there is such a thing !) :o

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