When I think of school dinners, I think of getting into the queue at the canteen, clutching my tray, collecting my school dinner, normally meat, two veg and mashed potato, and picking up my pudding at the same time. This could be chocolate sponge with custard if I were lucky or rice pudding if I wasn’t.
But what are school dinners like in Australia?
As far as I am aware, schools here in Australia do not have canteens or school dinners as we know them in the UK. Most children take a packed lunch to school in a cool bag, along with a large chilled drink. The kids then eat this packed lunch in the classroom at lunchtime or they can take it outside to eat. Nobody gets to go home for lunch, it’s just not allowed. I’m talking about junior schools here, so aged up to 13, senior schools may be different.
But Australian schools also have tuckshop. Again, I’m not 100% sure if all Australian schools do, but they certainly do here in Queensland and I believe also in New South Wales and Victoria.
Yes, it is called tuckshop and isn’t to be confused with the English tuck shop you are probably familiar with. In my day, the tuck shop was opened in the afternoon and only sold sweets.
Here, the tuckshop sells more nutritious foods and in our local school it is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Apart from the paid tuckshop convener, it is run by volunteers, mostly mums but also some dads of children who attend the school.
Here’s how tuckshop works. A parent writes on a plain brown paper bag the food that they want for their child. There are two lunch breaks, the first is 11 am to 11.45 and the second 1.15-1.45pm, so they also need to say which break it is for and also which class their child is in. Like this…..
As 11 AM approaches, apparently it can get quite frantic in there as the volunteers start placing the hot and cold foods into their respective bags. The bags are then placed into different boxes, one box per class.
Meanwhile, back in the classroom, two volunteer children are sent to go and collect the box. When they return, the bags are handed out and lunch begins.
The menu is quite extensive and all food on it conforms to the “Smart Choices” guidelines which I believe were set out by the government. So…..
- Sandwiches do not contain salt or butter unless requested
- Chicken is roasted breast meat with the skin off
- Reduced fat products are used where possible, including reduced fat ham and cheese
- All food is cooked fresh for each break, no foods are heated from home
The menu is quite extensive; you can click on it to enlarge it…….
I wouldn’t call it cheap, but I guess we could say these meals are fairly priced. I don’t know what a school dinner costs in the UK these days, but Google has suggested anything between around £1.60-£2.00. So I suppose the ‘meal deals’ at $3.50 aren’t so different from that.
But we certainly don’t get any free milk here. Does anybody anymore? Maggie…. Maggie!
Nothing to do with Australia…..
…….Apart from the fact that this news item appeared on Australian TV. I know it’s a tenuous link, but when you hear something that just simply makes your jaw drop, like mine did when I heard this, well, you just have to share don’t you?
The following text is word for word exactly what newsreader Kay McGrath said on 7news the other night here in Australia…..
“A three year old boy has survived falling 15 metres from an apartment block in southern Turkey. The toddler was hanging from a third floor balcony when he slipped and fell onto a pile of plastic pipes.
His mother, who was inside cleaning at the time, said her son always hangs from the balcony but she never thought he would fall.
He suffered a broken arm and leg.”
“She never thought he would fall??????”