Should schools ban packed lunches?

A parenting debate has been sparked about whether packed lunch boxes should be banned from schools.

‘Great British Bake Off’ judge Prue Leith has been battling to get school lunches banned from schools for almost 40 years and appeared on this morning’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ to argue the case for outlawing home-brought lunches.

The television judge joined hosts Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on the breakfast programme to debate schools banning packed lunches amid claims they are contributing to childhood obesity.

Beginning the discussion, Prue said most parents “fill lunch boxes with junk” and called for items with high-fat contents to be restricted.

“There are some mums that do it really well but most people fill the lunch boxes with junk,” she said, going on to say packed lunches should be banned.

Should school packed lunches be banned? [Photo: Getty]
Should school packed lunches be banned? [Photo: Getty]

Prue went on to say parents should not put treats in lunch boxes as they should be given once a week, not every day, which seemed to shock Susanna who queried: “Once a week?”

Prue replied: “It depends, but I think if you have more than one sweet thing a day you are adding 400 calories to your days.

“Chocolate and chips aren't bad, you just don't want it every day.”

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Arguing that packed lunches shouldn’t be outlawed Sian Griffiths, who works in schools, counter-argued that though something needs to be done about the one in three children leaving primary school obese, banning packed lunches not the answer.

“I don't think banning packed lunches is a good idea,” she said.

“A lot of school food is absolutely terrible. I go to schools a lot and just this week I was offered fish fingers, pizza, fried fish in batter and sausages and that's not healthy food.”

Prue Leith wants to see school packed lunches banned [Photo: Getty]
Prue Leith wants to see school packed lunches banned [Photo: Getty]

Prue said it should be up to schools to teach children about healthy food, but Sian said: “I think schools have got so much on their plate.”

Susanna went on to point out there was some conflict as Prue is the judge on a baking show.

“Of course it is a very obvious one, but that is a competition,” Prue responded.

Prue later cleared up her previous comment, telling the hosts: “I never said you should have a treat a week, I said mothers shouldn’t put a treat into the lunchbox every week, they’re going to get dozens of treats at home.”

She went on to say she wanted to see lunches as a lesson.

“In Finland the children sit down and are taught a lot about food, they are sitting down with teachers and they are learning, they don't know it is a lesson - it should be relaxing, but it should be healthy.”

The debate about the future of packed lunches continued over on Twitter with many disagreeing with Prue that home-brought lunches should be outlawed.

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It isn’t the first time there has been a debate about packed lunches.

Last month a primary school’s decision to ban all drinks other than water from pupil’s packed lunch boxes caused controversy.

And last year a mum went online to complain about the strict lunch box policy at her daughter’s school, detailing how she was called in for a special meeting for including a mini chocolate bar in a packed meal.