Healthy foods policy criticised

PACKED lunch poachers have gone on the prowl in the playground at an Ipswich school from today as teachers step up their assault on unhealthy food.

PACKED lunch poachers have gone on the prowl in the playground at an Ipswich school from today as teachers step up their assault on unhealthy food.

As Murrayfield Primary School's 350 youngsters return to the classroom after their half term break, they can expect eagled-eyed teachers to take away sweets, fizzy drinks and other unhealthy foods if they are found in a lunch box.

A newsletter, which warned parents of the new measures and published a list of acceptable packed lunch foods, said the contraband unhealthy food would be returned to the children at the end of the school day.

Foods parents are being encouraged to send with their children to school include fruit, vegetables, dried fruit, cheese, yoghurts and water.

Although some parents have been outraged by the move the school in Nacton Road has vigorously defended the policy.

Headteacher Wendy James said it had consulted with parents in November about the new Food Policy.

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She said: “When I came here in September I was amazed at some of the foods children were eating at break time.

“There were a lot of high sugar and high addictive foods. These can affect behaviour which can in turn be disruptive and have an affect on education.”

Mrs James said the school would not be “policing lunchboxes” but would take away unhealthier foods if they saw them in the playground or around the school.

She said the food policy is a response to government initiatives on healthy eating in schools. Other schools across the county have already implemented similar policies but Murrayfield's has encountered harsh criticism.

Mrs James added: “Eating and health has always been part of the national curriculum and the government is now asking schools to help improve diet among children. I think this is something we should be doing.”

She said no parents had complained to her about the policy however there has been disquiet among parents.

One mum at the school, Tracey Willmott, said: “My second son goes to Murrayfield and last week he brought home one of the usual newsletters.

“I was disgusted with what I read. Starting on the week after half term, the teachers are allowed to go into the child's lunch box and remove anything which they feel is unhealthy for the kids to eat.

“This I feel is totally wrong. Surely the school has no right to do this to deny a child of food. You go to school to learn not to be told what you can and can't eat, you cannot force children to eat vegetables, fruit, etc if they do not like it.

Other parents have supported the move.

What do you think of the school's healthy food policy? Has the nanny state gone too far or is this a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Food police strike- See Edblog on www.eveningstar.co.uk

MUMS and dads expressed a variety of views at the school gates, with some for and others against the school's policy.

Shane Willmott, 29, of Hilton Road, whose 7-year-old son Nile attends the school said: “I came to Murrayfield myself and I think it does a great job but this isn't right.

“A lot of people are angry about it. I think telling us what to fed our children is out of order. I can't believe they are going to do it.”

Karen Markell, whose two boys Christopher, 9, and James, 6, are at Murrayfield supported the measures.

She said: “I was annoyed to start with when I first read the newsletter but the school is trying to do the right thing and I think it's a good idea now.

“I try to give my children a healthy packed lunch but I think it might be a bit unfair to take food away if they are hungry.”

Emma Elliston, 27, of Nacton road has a five year old son at the school.

She said: “I think this will help us to get our children to eat properly. They will grow up eating healthy food and I support the school in this.”

Natalie Hawkins, whose six-year-old twins Francesco and Martina are at Murrayfield, said: “I am fuming about it. I think it is a disgrace.

“Children like to eat what they want. I don't want to be told what I can and can't feed my children.”

Ginny Wiseman arrived at the school with her nine-year-old son Conor.

She said: “This policy doesn't bother me. They are trying to help children eat properly. I make sure my son has a healthy diet.”

Another mum, who did not wish to be named, said: “It's a load of rubbish. They eat what they want at home anyway. I'm a bit angry about this to be honest and there are quite a few mums who have been annoyed by it.”

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