SCHOOLS have been slammed for serving pupils sub-standard grub post-lockdown as they struggle to manage new social-distancing regulations.
Some children have complained they are being forced to eat lunch as early as 11am or as late as 2pm as canteen staff struggle to stagger meal times.
And experts have been warned youngsters are being fed shoddy meals including little more than a cheese roll, an apple, a biscuit and a fruit drink.
Paul Evans director of schools health at the British Obesity Society said some kids were being fed "awful lunches."
He added: “In addition, teachers and leaders are all struggling to digest the guidance and despite doing their best, are often making needless changes to lunchtime – sitting pupils in bubbles away from one another while also putting staff in bubbles.
“I worked with one school who couldn't work out a way to serve all of their pupils that they were running lunch from 11 am – 2 pm.
“It was crazy”
Netmums Editor in Chief, Anne-Marie O'Leary, said "I have personal experience of this,due to social distancing measures at my children’s school, it has moved to providing hot meals in take away boxes for junior children.
“Because this has led to reduced portion sizes my son has now switched to packed lunches as the take away hot lunch provided in the classroom simply isn’t enough".
Mum Fran Griffin, 44, from Redhill, Surrey, told The Sun said: “Just the smell and appearance of the school meals being served up post-lockdown alone made my daughter feel sick.
“One day they were given roast dinner but when she came home she told me the meat did not look like meat.”
Mum of two Diane Cooke, 39, from Corby, Northants, said: “The kids are having to queue for ages each lunch time. And because the school has been separated into year bubbles they are having to do pop up style food outlets which means that by the time my kids get their food it’s cold.
“Or there’s little choice. "Yesterday my son had popcorn and a packet of crisps for his lunch. He refuses to take a packed lunch."
Stephanie Slater founder and CEO of School Food Matters said: “I have great sympathy for school leaders as they try to navigate government guidance to ensure compliance and keep children self.
“But it saddens me that many still think of school meals as an irritation – something annoying that has to be managed – rather than an important part of a child’s education and an opportunity to come together, adopt good eating habits and enjoy a positive social experience.
"During our work on the government’s School Food Plan we identified that the best school meal services are found in schools with head teachers who understand the educational value of school meals and make a commitment to put children’s health first.
“It is entirely possible to serve a hot nutritionally balanced meal at lunchtime within Covid 19 restrictions and many schools are managing to do this but until heads see lunchtime as an opportunity to learn, they’ll default to the easy option and that’s often a sub-standard packed lunch.
“Government guidance is clear – school meals must meet the school food standards. The funding is still flowing into schools through the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy and benefits-related free school meals so we would urge heads and caterers to work together to deliver the best service for their young people.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Schools and their caterers are required to follow the School Food Standards to ensure that all children are able to access a healthy, nutritious meal while at school.
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