I like to keep abreast of political issues, especially when it comes to those involving food and, more so, children health. That’s why a few months back, UK politics caught my interest when a debate raged up surrounding school meals. In the UK, a huge proportion of school aged children are entitled to a daily free school meal. This is a scheme that has run for many years, throughout each government change, and is one I whole heartedly support from afar. Designed for those children of lower income families, it ensures that each child gets at least one hot meal a day during a school week.
You can only imagine the anger that resulted in the House of Parliament when Prime Minister Theresa May made a proposal to halt this free school meal – but, in its place, implement a free school breakfast instead. The UK wasn’t divided in opinion, they were darn right enraged – and to be honest so was I.
Many Children and Adults Don’t Eat Breakfast
When we first had children, I was a stickler for making sure nobody left the house in the morning without eating breakfast. Cereal, followed by toast; I was adamant that nobody was going to school, or work, on an empty stomach. However, during my wife’s last pregnancy, she became averse to eating breakfast, and this continued after the birth. Consequently, I had to rethink my thoughts on breakfast. Around this time too, my eldest admitted to feeling sick at the thought of having to sit down and consume milk and cereal first thing in the morning.
Why Do We Place So Much Emphasis on Breakfast?
I have always been brought up to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After all, the experts have always told us so, and continue to tell us so. When I was training to be a chef, it was always the first topic we touched upon when talking about food and health issues.
Whilst I have no doubt breakfast does a lot for a person by setting them up for the day, I have begun to realise that not everybody can stomach food so soon after waking. I often watch my wife eat a mid-morning healthy snack and notice how much better she feels for eating later during the morning, rather than first thing.
Fortunately, the UK’s anger prevailed, and free school lunches remain in place. I for one believe that a child does indeed need a hot, well-cooked nutritional meal every day. Given the choice, I would rather they have this than a measly bowl of cereal or toast any day.