Tupperware, Tuna and the Death of the Packed Lunch #freeschoolmeals
Today was the first day of free school meals for all children in P1-3 in Scottish State Schools.
Much as this looks like a positive step towards equality, it feels more like daft misdirection of cash.
Pupils who needed a free school meal were getting a free school meal anyway. Back in the day there arguably used to be a stigma associated with being a “dinner ticket” child, but since cashless catering there has been no opportunity for such a stigma. No one has needed to / been able to know who was paying and who was being paid for.
The result is that people like me who were happy, delighted even, to pay £10 a week or so to avoid having to make rank little anaemic looking sandwiches last thing at night or first thing in the morning, are simply thinking… “Bonus.”
Why is the State paying for lunches I was paying for anyway?
In the same way – why does the state pay for everyone’s prescriptions, when before the charges were dropped, most people weren’t having to pay anyway? There were so many categories of people who got free prescriptions anyway, the people who paid were in a position to pay were happy to pay.
Why is the State paying for prescriptions I was happy paying for anyway?
And again – the free bus passes for the elderly? Okay, so you perhaps conjure up an image of a wee frail person, glad of the means to get to the shop. But what about those (and who can blame them?) that get their pals together and go for a trip up north for a nice wee lunch and some shopping, courtesy of the State?
Why is the State paying for wealthy pensioners to go for free for a jolly day out?
By trying to level the playing field and working towards equality, the money seems to be going into the wrong hands. The families who were perhaps in need of the extra help of a free meal a day for their child are no better off. The people happy to pay are quids-in. Doubtless, though, this move will go towards helping many working families make ends meet. Which is a good thing.
But all seems like a bit of an expensive gimmick/vote-winning ploy.
Meanwhile, the local councils are desperately trying to balance the books, while above their heads, catering cash is being spent – whether or not there was a demand for it. And there wasn’t. It’s just that Scotland aspires to be… Finland, I think.
Anyway – all this talk of free school meals got me nostalgic for my packed lunches of the late 1970s: the Tupperware box, the Tupperware tumbler for the diluting orange juice that never quite sealed and let the juice leak out – the juice that always tasted of … Tupperware. I remember the flawed concept of pretty much every sandwich: the tuna that would make the box all fishy, the jam that would bleed into the bread by lunchtime, the peanut butter that couldn’t even be washed down with the Tupperware flavoured juice. I was the generation that was brought up to be fearful of sweeties, so we got crisps every day: sometimes Salt’n’Shake, or Fish’N’Chips and latterly, on a good day, Frazzles or Chipsticks. To round off there was perhaps a Taxi biscuit or a Blue Riband or, on a good day, a mini-Marathon or a 54321…
So, not that Daughter three was every really one for packed lunches, her chances to blog about her packed lunch memories in about 35 years’ time are now receding. She will perhaps only be able to look back fondly, remembering the first day of the Free School Meals with the Vegetarian Lentil Soup served with Seasoned Chicken with Tortilla Wrap and Tossed Salad and a fruit platter.
There is such as thing as a free lunch.
But need there be, for all?