You may have seen several versions of the photo montage doing the rounds on social media ‘school meals from around the world’.
What originated in 2015 as a blogpost by Sweetgreen (https://sweetgreen.tumblr.com/post/103458679563/school-lunches-around-the-world) soon became a rude awakening for many of us that our school lunches perhaps don’t match up to that of other countries across the globe.
Whilst it may have made jaws drop with the realisation of what our children were being fed, it seems the impact that it had may have been more significant than first anticipated. Bringing the issue of nutrition to the forefront of the media when childhood obesity is at an all-time high was much needed and this along with other similar posts, helped to raise the discussion once again. ‘What can we do to fight this issue?’
The Huffington post was the latest to publish their version of School meals around the world (https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/school-lunches-around-the-world_n_6746164) with Popcorn Chicken being staple on the USA meal programme to Brazilian Pork with blackbeans and rice. In fact most images show a well-balanced meal, given that it was published in 2017 after a much needed shake up had been handed out by governments across the world.
Schools in England have been trying to improve their offerings over the past 10-15 years with Celebrities pushing the subject into the media and raising the question about how we can all improve.
Alarmed by rising obesity rates in children, Jamie Oliver met with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005 and challenged the government to improve the system and the School Food Trust was introduced. Schools across the UK invested into the programme and drastic improvements followed.
The latest campaign is the HSRS or Healthy Schools Rating Scheme (https://www.schoolfoodmatters.org/campaigns/healthy-schools-rating-scheme) which, as part of the governments childhood obesity programme, evaluates how schools are supporting children to keep themselves healthy.
Whilst the school meal system has improved massively over the past few years, one thing that hasn’t changed much in that time is the number of servings of seafood offered to pupils each week. The health benefits (http://blog.regalfish.co.uk/2019/12/09/fish-and-its-health-benefits/) of Seafood are well documented and the NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/fish-and-shellfish-nutrition/) recommend two portions of Seafood weekly with one oily fish such as Salmon. However most schools in this country have continued to offer the usual one portion, generally offered on a Friday.
Of the various images from the highlighted countries, 3 of the 9 included seafood. Italy featured locally sourced fish served on bed of arugula, South Korea offered fish soup with tofu and rice whilst Spain sautéed prawns over brown rice with vegetables.
With seafood gracing 1 in 3 offerings it shows that the rest of the world holds fish and shellfish in high esteem. Then so why does a landlocked country such as ours only choose to serve it 1 day a week? Are we really giving seafood the respect it deserves?
With Seafish consumer brand ‘Fish is the dish’ doing its best to educate parents on the health benefits (https://www.fishisthedish.co.uk/health/healthy-children) of feeding children two portions a week, the message doesn’t appear to be hitting home with families opting for other forms of protein. Certainly more work needs to be done in schools to encourage children to ‘learn to love fish’ (http://blog.regalfish.co.uk/2014/07/17/this-months-learn-to-love-fish-workshop) from an early age.
We’ve brought together some of our favourite lunchbox ideas and quick and easy to prepare products that are perfect for busy families. And if you need any tips on encouraging your little ones, check out our blog post. (http://blog.regalfish.co.uk/2019/10/23/seafood-for-kids/)
Our 5 favourite Packed Lunch Recipes