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The Evolution of the School Lunch Menu

The Evolution of the School Lunch Menu


Do you recall that gruel-like porridge and the disgusting liver with very lumpy mashed potatoes? Probably not because, if you were that old, you wouldn’t know how to use the Internet, but those school meals were rather endured than enjoyed. School meals today are a far cry from the very limited and non-nutritious menus of the past.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how school dinners have changed over the years.

The School Meals Act was introduced in 1906. It took more than a decade to be implemented by schools, but at least it ensured that every child going to school would receive a hot, free meal. Breakfasts were boring back then. The normal menu included oatmeal porridge, milk and treacle usually followed by bread with margarine spread or dripping.

A decade after, school lunches started becoming more interesting yet non beneficial. Students would now devour that British classic Toad-in-the-Hole. That’s a heavy lunch!

After the 1940’s the menu seemed to get even more unhealthy. Kids would tuck into canned spam, lumpy mash, potato pies and jam roly-polys.

Stepping into the 1960s, British schoolchildren enjoyed more variety for their meals. They could choose from liver with mash, stew with mash, fish and chips or corned beef. Kids loved the new options, but they still didn’t have a balanced diet.

And we are finally in the period most of you remember, the 80’s and 90’s. The era of the packed meals! A Dairylea Lunchable, a Wagon Wheel, a Frube or a Kellogg’s Fruit Winder was definitely in your millennial lunchbox.

The year of change! Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver ran a successful campaign for better quality and healthier school meals.

The standards for school nutrition programs are so detailed and, thanks to the strict government guidelines, students are now provided with healthy, delicious meals that they actually look forward to eating.

We visited Bramhope Primary School where meals are healthier than ever before and chef Phill has some useful tips to share with parents who struggle getting their kids to eat more veggies. Let’s take a look!