Fury as primary school bans packed lunches forcing parents to deliver food at lunchtime
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A mum has branded her daughter’s school ‘ridiculous’ after it banned packed lunches forcing her to drive to school every day with food.
Bean Primary School in Kent has introduced a new policy that has seen packed lunches banned for children in Year 1 and Reception due to the need to guarantee a certain number of cooked dinners from the meal provider.
But the move has left some parents unimpressed, including Fay Armitage, whose lactose intolerant daughter Bonnie is in Reception at the school.
The mum claims that her little girl regularly comes home with a sore stomach as she no longer has control over her diet.
She had been hoping to send Bonnie in with a packed lunch so she knew exactly what she had eaten - but that’s now been banned.
The school’s headteacher said there is a ‘lactose-free alternative’ for those who require it.
Fay was told to fill in a dietary request form so the kitchen knows what they can give Bonnie.
But this won't cut it for the mum-of-three, who sometimes drives to the school gates to allow her daughter to eat her packed lunch in the car.
"I didn’t say she can’t eat certain foods," the 35-year-old said.
"I just monitor what she eats and make sure she does not have too much of anything that is going to upset her tummy.
“I don’t need them to tell me every mouthful she eats, but just to give me an idea so I can adjust her evening meals accordingly.
"If she has had a yoghurt I would know not to give her one later. They just told me they didn’t have enough staff to be able to do that.
"I think it's ridiculous, to be honest."
Fay said the rule is ‘preventing’ her daughter from ‘eating properly’.
“Bean Primary School is a Unicef Rights Respecting School - this is highlighted on their website where Article 12 states that every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously.
"Yet the school is ignoring the fact that some children would prefer a packed lunch and is forcing them to have a school dinner purely for financial gain.
"It's disappointing that the headteacher, Mr Reilly, and the school governors are taking away the rights of the children by refusing to let the younger children have a packed lunch.
“While I appreciate that the government offers UIFSM, this is an offer and not compulsory.
"It appears Mr Reilly and the governors have promised the catering company a minimum number of meals each day and to ensure Mr Reilly receives all the funding he can he is forcing the children in Reception and Year 1 to have school dinners while children in all other year groups have the option of taking in a packed lunch from home.
“This is going to result in children being hungry unnecessarily and is not safeguarding my child or putting her needs first.
“It is instead preventing my child from eating properly.”
Bean Primary School head teacher Graham Reilly said: "The policy was brought in a year ago because of the school’s need to guarantee a certain number of cooked lunches from the provider.
"The quality of meals is excellent and we have received many compliments from parents and pupils.
"There were no issues last year and the policy is being rolled out as each year group progresses, so children who have brought packed lunches in the past can continue to do so until they change schools.
"The situation is explained to every parent who takes part in the meetings for reception-age children before choosing that school for their child.
"There is a lactose-free alternative for affected children.
"It is not feasible to prepare a written report on everything an individual pupil has eaten."
A spokesman for Kent County Council said it was up to individual schools to decide on their own policies, and added there was 'no obligation' on them to allow packed lunches.