You can give a child some vegetables, but you can’t make them eat

School Christmas Lunch is a big thing – uptake shoots up to about 75%, the meal is bigger, the choice is reduced, service takes longer, children sit for longer and waste is at the same level as always. In order to smooth the service things get put on plates regardless – stuffing, vegetables, gravy – otherwise we would take an hour longer than normal, and we just don’t have that much time to give.

There was roast turkey (or Vegetable Wellington), mini sausage, stuffing, three types of veg and gravy, and then a Christmas Pudding-shaped muffin for afters.

What the photo shows is the start of the returns trolley plate-scrapings. There ended up being three trays full of scrapings that day (no different to many others in quantity, but this day saw the veg proportion increase).

Much (too much) of the veg went straight in the bin. Very seasonal colours and all that, but wasted. They went from field to kitchen to pan to plate to bin; a wasted effort it seems.

We make the point, possibly using a touch of ‘spin’, that all the meals offered at our school meet the school food standards. This is not the same as ‘all the meals served’, nor ‘all the meals eaten’. Fresh fruit, water, vegetables and salad are always available – they aren’t necessarily taken though. And what we saw on Wednesday only showed that simply putting it on the plate regardless of the children’s intentions will not mean that it is eaten.

It is, to use President Bartlet’s words, far more complicated than that, far more subtly nuanced, and probably reaches way back and well outside our reach. Having said that, we will keep on growing, keep on harvesting fruit in our orchards, keep on using the teaching kitchen, keep on offering vegetables, salads and fruit at lunchtime, keep on making the point, keep on teaching about healthy diets and choices, and maybe by doing so make a small difference that otherwise would not happen.

Search our website


We've achieved...


Our target is...