£19.50 – is it enough to feed the kids a balanced diet?
We may not look back at our own school dinners with the fondest of memories – lumpy mash, reclaimed meat and stodgy puddings to name but a few.
But whilst we joke, we mustn’t forget that school dinners provide a lifeline for many children and in some cases is their hot meal throughout the day.
It is estimated that approximately 80,000 children in Wales received free school meals in 2019 (National Office of Statistics, 2019). This number is expected to increase due to population growth and the impact of COVID-19 on family incomes.
This is why it was such welcome news that the Welsh and UK governments quickly introduced a weekly payment to cover the cost of school meals during the pandemic. In Wales, those that are eligible for free school meals can access a weekly payment via direct debit for £19.50 (£2.90 for lunch and £1 for breakfast).
You’ll be pleased to know that school dinners have come a long way since those stodgy puddings. All schools in Wales must provide food which complies with The Healthy Eating in Schools (Nutritional Standards and Requirements) (Wales) Regulations 2013. These regulations set out nutritional standards for an average school lunch as well as food and drink requirement throughout the school day.
This is important as school age children from age 5 to 16 year old have a range of nutritional needs which are essential for healthy growth. If these are not met at specific stages of childhood growth, development into adolescence growth may be delayed or reduced, leading to increased risk of mental illness.
You may have seen the success of footballer-turned-campaigner, Marcus Rashford’s plea to the UK Government to join Wales and make a U-turn on continuing to support the school meal scheme over the summer holidays.
To coincide with this announcement and to support families with making the most out of the scheme, we will be launching our Summer Dinner campaign.
Dietary guidelines are all well and good, but we can all need help putting them into practice in the real world. This can be challenging as it requires planning and budgeting. This also poses the question -is it possible to feed my child in line with the nutritional guidelines on a tight budget?
Natalie Rouse, our very own nutritionist has been busy taking on our #HealthyKidsfor£20 challenge. Natalie has been finding out just how far you can stretch a budget of £19.50 over a week, whilst still achieving your nutritional fix.
As part of this campaign we will be providing weekly content throughout the school holidays which includes weekly meal plans, shopping lists, recipe cards and top tips.
Interested? Sign up to receive our weekly Summer Dinner email directly to your inbox: https://www.futurefoods.wales/healthykids