Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Is This the End for School Lunch Box? A Head Has Suggested the Government Should Consider Banning School Packed Lunches to Ensure All Children Get a Healthy Meal. ALASTAIR CRAIG Reports

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Is This the End for School Lunch Box? A Head Has Suggested the Government Should Consider Banning School Packed Lunches to Ensure All Children Get a Healthy Meal. ALASTAIR CRAIG Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: ALASTAIR CRAIG

SHOULD children's lunch boxes be consigned to the bin?

A debate on the issue of school packed lunches has been fuelled this week by a headteacher from Gateshead who suggested outlawing them should be considered by Government ministers.

The unidentified teacher believes an outright ban could be a way of monitoring what children eat while at school.

Such a restriction, the teacher claims, would help to banish crisps and sweets from the dinner halls in favour of fruit and vegetables provided by school cooks for all pupils.

Doctors in the region reported in November that almost one in four people in the North East could be described as obese.

The latest North East Obesity Summit held by the National Obesity Forum found that, among children, almost 8% of boys and one in 10 girls are considered clinically obese.

Dr Tim Butler, a GP in Stanley, County Durham, and North East regional chairman of the NOF, said: "There is an increased level of obesity in the North East because of the region's industrial heritage and higher rate of deprivation."

In a report - titled the 2009/10-2010/11 Budget Update - which went before Gateshead Council's cabinet this week, details are revealed of a meeting between headteachers and council officials.

The report reads: "Discussion took place around school meals and whether charges for managing the packed lunch service could be considered.

"It was suggested that Parliament be lobbied to ban packed lunches, or enable schools to monitor the contents.

"A marketing campaign to promote school meals would be developed within Gateshead."

The council yesterday made clear they have no intention of following through on the idea, despite its appearance in a report.

Gateshead Council's director of learning and schools, David Mitchell, said: "We can confirm the comment was made by an individual headteacher in a meeting about the council's budget consultation process and represents the views of that individual only. …

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