School Bans Packed Lunches to Ensure Healthy Eating

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 8 min read

In recent weeks we’ve heard and seen a lot about schools and their struggles with packed lunch policies. Schools across the country have different approaches, some providing a traffic light guide system to parents, and some confiscating food until the end of the day. One school in Nottingham has come up with a simple solution for key stage one students: packed lunches are banned altogether.

One fell swoop

The St John the Baptist Primary school in Nottingham has taken to a policy of banning packed lunches altogether for its key stage one students, and overall it has been widely appreciated by parents. In key stage one, UIFSM entitles all pupils to free school meals every day. Instead of spending time enforcing packed lunch policies – the school can focus its efforts on providing good healthy meals daily.

Head teacher Chris Belton, said:

“To promote healthy eating, we introduced a policy of mandatory school meals for those children starting reception year in September 2016 – and this applies as the pupils move up through the years in Key Stage One, where all pupils are entitled to enjoy a free school meal anyway.

“we have received overwhelming support from parents who repeatedly tell us that it has encouraged their children to eat a wider selection of healthy foods.

“If children have any medical needs which mean they cannot eat certain foods, we will of course accommodate this and we already work with several parents and pupils across the school.”


It sounds like a pretty successful policy and it certainly makes the situation clearer and easier for all involved, while ensuring the maximum number of pupils get a healthy school meal. One parent at the school has grown frustrated at the policy however. Her daughter is a picky eater and has often picked at her main course and only eaten dessert when served school meals.

The mother said:

“I do not think it is healthier that my daughter can go without dinner and then have pudding. I can provide her with a full, balanced lunch box. There should be the option for children that do not eat it.”

In fact, the mother took her child out of school recently over the lunch break just to provide her with a packed lunch she would eat.

The school said that it had successfully encouraged the child to eat her school dinner on a number of occasions. The school added that with more time and collaboration, the issue will be overcome.

Such a policy of banning packed lunches altogether could never be implemented without some bumps and hitches along the way. But the overall good it does for the majority of students is well worth the few issues it can cause. Potential issues can always be resolved on an individual basis for students with special requirements.

The school does allow packed lunches for older students – it can’t force them to pay for school dinners. But the long term goal is to provide paid-for meals for all its students across the school.

The all or nothing approach might not work for all schools – but it’s an interesting approach to the problem. It’s a policy that ensures the maximum number of students will take advantage of the free school meals on offer, benefiting students educational development.

Related links & news stories

Nottingham Post: School bans packed lunches as part of healthy eating campaign

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