Pizza has held the top spot in the list of favourite main courses since 1996. Chips, the third-favourite meal in 2000, dropped out of the top five in 2002. Children now say they eat chips twice a week, compared with three times a week in 1994.
Cakes and buns remain the favourite dessert.
Top five favourite main courses:
|1 2 3 4 5||Pizza Pasta/spaghetti Burger Roast dinner Turkey/chicken||Pizza Burger Pasta/spaghetti Roast dinner Curry|
Top five favourite puddings:
|1 2 3 4 5||Cakes or buns Ice cream Sponge pudding Fruit crumble Yogurt||Cakes or buns Ice cream Chocolate sponge Sponge pudding Yogurt|
What sort of food should be provided?
The most popular food items requested by children are those that can be held, such as pizzas, burgers and fruit. Parents, however, more often want their children to have healthy or traditional meals, including salads, jacket potatoes and roast dinners.
Ninety-four per cent of parents think it is important or very important for their child's school to provide a healthy meal at lunchtime, although only 53% thought the food provided was healthy.
Food and drinks children and parents think schools should provide:
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10||Pizza Fresh fruit Pasta dishes Burgers Salad Fizzy drinks Chicken Baked potatoes Hot puddings Filled jacket potatoes||Fresh fruit Healthy meals Vegetables Salad Pasta dishes Filled jacket potatoes Baked potatoes Milk Fresh fruit juice Roast dinner|
How much is spent?
The average amount spent on a school meal is £1.68, varying from £1.50 for eight- to 10-year-olds, to £1.80 for 15- to 16-year-olds. Only 14% of parents would "definitely" pay more for a higher standard of meal.
|Overall London and the South The East and the Midlands The South-west and Wales The North Scotland Northern Ireland||£1.68 £1.63 £1.73 £1.72 £1.69 £1.45 £2.00|
Food service problems
Long queues, crowded dining areas and poor choice and range have consistently topped of the list of criticisms since 1998, suggesting that these have yet to be addressed successfully.
Top 10 problems:
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10||Length of queues (51%) Crowded and cramped seats (35%) Choice and range of food (29%) Price of the food (27%) Size of the portion (24%) Taste of the food (21%) Poor appearance of the food (20%) Temperature of the food (18%) Friendliness of the catering staff (15%) No opportunity to sit with friends (14%)||Length of queues (53%) Crowded and cramped seats (35%) Choice and range of food (29%) Size of the portion (27%) Price of the food (27%) Taste of the food (22%) Temperature of the food (21%) Appearance of the food (20%) No opportunity to sit with friends (19%) Friendliness of the catering staff (17%)|
The percentages show how many respondents said these factors occured at their school. Twenty-nine percent did not consider any of these factors to be a problem.
Source: The Sodexho School Meals and Lifestyle Survey 2005.