School dinners (that means ‘lunch’) are a hot topic in the UK these days and there are lots of different opinions about what young people eat at lunchtime. Some people think that school meals are unhealthy, some people say that they are much better than in the past and others say that midday meals should be free for all schoolchildren.

What is a school dinner?

More than a third of British school pupils have school dinner. Others take a packed lunch to school, prepared at home, or have lunch at home, or even eat at nearby take-away restaurants. A typical school dinner costs about two pounds a day for a secondary pupil in the UK. There is usually a main course, a dessert and a drink. Parents often pay in advance online. School dinners must include food groups such as fruit and vegetables, protein (for example, meat, fish or cheese) and carbohydrates (for example, rice or pasta). There are rules about how the food is prepared: for instance, there are limits on the quantity of fried food served.


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Martha Payne, from Scotland, started a blog called ‘Neverseconds’ about her school dinners when she was just nine years old. She posted photographs of her lunch every day and gave the food a gradeout of ten. The grade depended on the quality and quantity of the food and how healthy it was. She didn’t always give good grades. Her complaints included too much fried food, small quantities and hair in the food (yuck!). Many people read her blog and young people from all over the world posted pictures of their school meals on ‘Neverseconds’.

Celebrity input

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity British chef, is passionate about school dinners. He thinks that they need to be healthier and tastier. Jamie helped to promote Martha’s blog and ‘Neverseconds’ became very popular on social media websites. Martha also raised money for charity and used it to provide food for more than 600,000 poor children around the world.