Things haven’t changed much in terms of school lunches in primary schools for many years. There are two breaks in the day: 10 minutes and 30 minutes where children have the chance to both eat and play. This usually consists of stuffing whatever food one brings to school in a short amount of time as possible in order to maximise play time.
We have no provision for serving proper lunches like most other countries and, to be fair, where would we find the time to prepare it, serve it and eat it.
The Schools Meals Programme for DEIS schools manages to provide lunches for children but this is limited to a sandwich, piece of fruit and a drink. These are individually packaged and designed to be eaten as quickly as any other packed lunch.
No wonder we have an obesity crisis if all children in Ireland are faced with rushed lunch times for 8 years of their childhood.
Where will we get the time, facilities and resources to provide such hot, healthy lunches?
Thankfully there are some fairly innovative schools that have managed to figure out some ideas and it’s there where we need to start, and we need to make it the norm.
The aim is to ensure that all primary schools will receive enough hot lunches for every child in the school.
The government need to work with local businesses to ensure that this happens. A local restaurant or café should be able to provide hot food to all local schools in an area and be able to manage them and be able to be funded to do so. This is the done thing in many countries. Given the volume, this shouldn’t be massively expensive.
The only other variable we are missing is time. Would teachers agree to extend their day by 30 minutes to allow for proper lunch provision? That might be where the plan would fall.