2007 - 2021

The 7p Breakfast *

The are 13 million people in Britain now below the poverty line, 1 million of these has to use foodbanks. Hunger’s a real thing in Britain in 2017. In this context the Tories manifesto pledge to scrap free school lunches and replace them with ‘breakfast clubs’ didn’t seem a good move. Posturing as caring social liberals, the Tories were quickly found out.

The party’s manifesto, released last week, proposed scrapping universal infant free school meals – which cost an estimated £600m each year – in favour of free breakfasts for all primary school pupils, at an estimated cost of just £60m per year.

But then it got worse.

The proposal was completely underfunded.

Critics calculated that if England’s 4.62 million primary school children attending state schools were to be fed a free breakfast on this budget, each meal could cost no more than 6.8p.

[* actually it’s 6.8 p]

So far so Toxic Tory. But the fact is that most of your children’s school lunches are protected by “commercial confidentiality” and cost a pittance.

Back in 2014 when kids at Cumbernauld High (and elsewhere) were eating horse, we found out that the amount spent on a child’s school lunch in Scotland ranged from 71p to £1.

I don’t think you can feed a child a meal of any real value for 70p, but it does put the Tories derisory 7p breakfast into some perspective.

Basically they were going to swap a hot meal for a cereal packet.

But a deeper root to this problem is our handing-over power to Big Food and our low-bar for quality food for our children.

We are in the midst of a epidemic of diet-related health problems in Scotland and don’t seem to have any credible strategy for doing anything about it.

Take McDonald’s – recently exposed for exploiting childhood bereavement to sell ‘filet-o-fish.’


Way back in 1997, McDonald’s were part of the longest running libel-trial in British history. The judge ruled that they ‘exploit children’ with their advertising, produce ‘misleading’ advertising, are ‘culpably responsible’ for cruelty to animals, are ‘antipathetic’ to unionisation and pay their workers low wages.

In March 1999 the Court of Appeal made further rulings that it was fair comment to say that McDonald’s employees worldwide “do badly in terms of pay and conditions”, and true that “if one eats enough McDonald’s food, one’s diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very real risk of heart disease.” More here.

They’re the main sponsor of Scottish youth football, and now they’re going to be ‘sponsoring’ the new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh. Read more at this gushing Evening News press release … I mean ….article here.

Sick food for Sick kids. Presumably Coke should be opening the Diabetes wing anytime soon?

The 7p breakast proposal is a disgrace, but it’s part of a deeper problem of corporate food and lack of investment in schools and in children and part of a wider failure of a failed food culture.

Corporate Food is in our hospitals and in our schools and in our sports training. You luvvin that?


Comments (8)

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  1. Legerwood says:

    Last year I saw the Michael Moore film “Where to invade next”. Part of the film dealt with school meals in France which he found out cost less than school meals in the USA. Yet they were 4 course meals served to the children on real China plates. The school chef – yes they had a chef – met once per month with the Mayor, teaching staff and council officials as well as a dietician to go over the menus for the month.

    The school kitchen came complete with a separate fridge for cheese. The school was in a smallish town. He also showed the menus for a school in a poorer area. Much the same – lots of choice and good food.

    Compare and contrast with what the Tories are offering.

    Totally false economy. Stocking up bad eating habits, future poor health and poor performance in school because the children are hungry.

    1. Similar in Italy Legerwood where kids learn tp prepare food in nursery. You are right, food can have some priority be fresh and nutritious … instead of cheap as possible processed crap

  2. Helen Lomas says:

    It occurs to me that instead of trying to economise on
    school meals…I think money could be saved by withdrawing subsidies from the several bars and restaurants in the house of commons. MP’s take very good care of themselves…they are paid generously…have second homes, second jobs and expense accounts. Last Christmas, the house of lords rejected having their Christmas dinner in MP’s restaurant as the champagne was inferior.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      And nae doot the nicht maist o Scotland’s overpaid political classes, B-list celebs, corporate elites, great n’ guid and assorted hingers oan will be attending the £5k+ a tableau Obama bash, to hear from America’s Blair the usual neoliberal mantra, all in the aid of (‘cough, cough, gie’s a duble’) cheriti.

  3. Matt Fallaize says:

    This has been a bit of a bugbear of mine for years. I am a professional chef, and am often mystified by the offerings of schools for meals (I’d also take issue with your 70p comment above – it’s doable, if the economies of scale are right. I can think of a few dishes with animal protein which would be possible at that price point, and around about half a bazillion veggie ones). This is not to say every school should have a chef, I don’t wish to traduce many admirable school cooks who do an excellent job (the school meals at my boys primary are half-decent, and the LEA uses the same butcher I use at my restaurant, the school meals at the school my wife works at, however, are outsourced to Capita and are fucking garbage). What I am saying is that the undervaluing of food in this country is widespread and not confined to schools. This Tory decision is shabby and counterproductive, but it will pass with barely a murmur because we just don’t care enough about food. I don’t know why, I don’t know how it happened, but it’s the case.

    1. Thanks Matt, I think we are in agreement.

      “the undervaluing of food in this country is widespread and not confined to” – I completely agree, that was the point I was trying to make?

      You are also right that there are some great school cooks. I worked on a school food pilot scheme a few years ago alongside great catering staff.
      But a combination of poor facilities, lack of training, underfunding and low expectations / aspirations for our childrens health and nutrition make for a poor picture
      compared with many of our European neighbours.

  4. IJM says:

    Did you/we really expect something different. ? Reason/ morals/ethics/truth have all gone
    out the window. Big Food Inc and Big Business Inc are just waiting in the wings to come in
    and teach those Limeys how to live. Brexit and the resulting chaos will play right into their
    hands. It was always a US project. But hey all you Leave/Brexit voters, do not worry. There will
    be a 6 pence breakfast coming along for your kids. TTIP, GM Foods. Nothing to worry about there

    These f””kers will spend more hunting a fox than feeding kids at a school. IT IS NOT RIGHT,

  5. Chris says:

    I’m not sure if you are aware that McDonalds sponsor all the family accommodation in Scotland’s children’s hospitals and have done for some time. I’m not defending their food, aggressive marketing and contribution to poor diets worldwide, plus name whatever list of evils you can come up, I’ll probably agree. But when you have a new-born in hospital long enough for you to have to give up your life to move *into* the hospital, I’ve been grateful for their accommodation.

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