Why Free School Meals Won’t Help Teenagers

Free school meals aren’t the answer

🍽️If you are hoping that free school meals will improve teenagers’ diets, you can think again. 🍽️
Schools, particularly secondary schools, try to get as much learning done in the mornings. This is when behaviour is better so the school day is skewed so that it is common for home time to be close to 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
This means a very short lunch break following a long morning session.

The guidelines

School meals are based on the Eat Well Guide which places carbohydrates (low in sugar ) in the foundations of their offering.
One of the rules is that chips can only be used for two meals a week.  This is very difficult to police and canteens need attractive offerings.


If you are reading this, you have probably been a teenager! Think about it. You have 30 minutes to neck your lunch. It doesn’t matter if it is free or not, what are you going to choose? Chips. 🍟
You can spend time with your friends outside and still eat something with your fingers.
The heavy carb load of the school dinner wouldn’t be a problem however many teenagers, with control of just a little bit of money, spend it on sweets, biscuits, soft drinks all of which contribute to insulin resistance and future chronic disease which is what the guidelines are trying to avoid.
I have seen teenagers scoffing a packet of biscuits between lessons because they are not allowed to eat in class and it is so long since they got up that they are famished.
This is an interesting read about what teenagers eat, in their own words.

The solutions

This is where we have got to act. Education about food groups and make the school day more teenager friendly and less school friendly.
Start the day later. Have longer for a sit down lunch and think of a better way to regulate afternoon behaviour than chucking them out on the streets mid afternoon. Make lessons about how food is used and digested more detailed and useful to people so that they have the knowledge to avoid😷 chronic diseases 😷 in the future.
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