While We’re On The Subject…

9 May

Yesterday I wrote about the English school system.  Today, I came across a lovely little blog with a horrifying subject matter: [whisper it] school dinners.

A primary school child – aged no more than eleven, which you will know if you were paying attention to yesterday’s lesson: pay attention; there might be a test later – is so appalled by her school dinners, she has started blogging about them.  Here’s an example:

Photograph  © Veg at Never Seconds

Absolutely disgraceful!  How is a child supposed to function on that?

Check her out at Never Seconds.  Well worth a read.  She has just started blogging so it would be nice to encourage her.  Maybe she can start a school dinners revolution, taking over where Jamie Oliver left off.

Spud was on school dinners for a while.  There were some days when he came home starving and the final straw for me was the day he had cheese for lunch.  Cheese.  Just cheese.  No bread, no, potatoes, no pasta, nothing to bulk it out or fill him up.  Cheese, because that was all that was left.  He went straight on to homemade lunches until high school.

School dinners are obligatory at his present school but he loves them – roast dinners; fabulous chocolate cakes; several options and enough to go round – of course he loves them.

School dinners – even the memory of them – make me queasy.  That horrible smell wafting through the building in morning lessons.  The mass of fat and gloop on the plate.  And don’t get me started on the puddings – sago (albino frog spawn by any other name) or rice pudding with jam…eurggh!

Spam Fritters!

Spam Fritters! (Photo credit: Stevie-B)

I posted about electronic spam the other day, which brought up the other kind of spam, meat.  Allegedly. 

From Wikipedia:

Spam (its name a portmanteau of the words “Spiced” and “Ham”) is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.

…and they served that to children in my day.

Spam Fritters were the worst: alleged meat coated in batter and deep-fried, with the fritter three times the size of the spam.  No wonder I was so skinny in school: I didn’t eat.

Did you?



50 Responses to “While We’re On The Subject…”

  1. speccy May 9, 2012 at 11:15 #

    I can’t imagine how it’s possible, but I think I liked the spam fritters… weird.


  2. vivinfrance May 9, 2012 at 12:10 #

    I didn’t eat much in school either – I use to scrape the food into a hanky and feed it to the pigs in the Convent farm. But I did love Spam fritters because there was no visible fat in the meat – horses for courses!


  3. Elaine May 9, 2012 at 12:35 #

    I remember Spam fritters! I hated them, horrid greasy things, but there was no choice, we had to eat them. Our plates were inspected before we were allowed to leave the dining hall and if there was anything left we had to go back to our seats and eat it. Yuk.


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:35 #

      Oliver Twist didn’t know how good he had it 🙂


  4. misswhiplash May 9, 2012 at 12:59 #

    Lumpy potatoes.lumpy thin custard and over vegetables is what I can recall. I can remember my Mum making Spam Fritters so maybe that is why I do not eat Spam now! I will have a look at the blog you mentioned!


  5. misswhiplash May 9, 2012 at 13:01 #

    I meant over cooked vegetables, not thin custard on vegetables….. oh and macaroni Cheese that I was forced, and I mean forced to eat…never eaten cheese since


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:36 #

      Hehe! By clarifying that, you spoiled my appalled image of your terrible childhood 🙂


  6. terry1954 May 9, 2012 at 13:44 #

    it is no wonder that kids would prefer to step out and go to the local gas station for a better selection. what happened to the balanced meals, including all food groups? this is not the way it was when i was in school


  7. Janie Jones May 9, 2012 at 13:46 #

    Our school meals were not quite that bad, but were popularly known for their “chicken stripes.” Not strips, but stripes. I still preferred to bring home lunches. The spud does as well. And, as for Spam, I’m not a fan, but Leif likes it and buys it by the multipack. Occasionally I am known to eat it on an egg and cheese sandwich. Occasionally. Very occasionally.


  8. judithatwood May 9, 2012 at 14:18 #

    Ugh! Mystery meat, yesterday’s leftovers with macaroni to make it seem like a different entree. The only good thing I ever had in a school meal were the yeast rolls in my 4th grade school. If we were having rolls, I’d try to tease and get an extra roll, and just have those with milk. Yum. The rest was pretty awful!


  9. kiwidutch May 9, 2012 at 14:43 #

    Great to find out more about the mystery product that was in the tin!
    Hmm… now that learned more, I’m in two minds…
    Do I buy some next time I’m in the UK so that I can have my 0.0000000001% share in the funny horror stories?… or I do I take a large step back and say “looks and feels wrong on SO many levels so let’s pass on this one?”

    Actually by the time I typed that out I’d made my decision… option two, let’s NOT go there, I leave you Brits to your nightmare meal LOL.

    One question though… since this stuff seems from the comments to be usually made into fritters does this mean it’s raw when it comes out of the tin? ie you need to cook it after opening?

    School lunches… none of that here (or in NZ) either… I must say it *sounded* like a brilliant idea until I saw the photo at the top of this post.. is there a word that is nastier than “nasty” that I could use?

    Good girl for taking the people serving up this rubbish to task.


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:43 #

      I think it’s cooked like ham, but I don’t care enough to find out. I get a headache just thinking about it.


  10. laurieanichols May 9, 2012 at 14:47 #

    I’ve never had Spam, I went to Catholic school and the menu was cheeseburger, hotdog, knish which is a fried mashed potato thing, I had the brown bag lunches which I hardly ate anyway. My memories of school never include food. In this country we are constantly having the battle royale as to how to feed our children inexpensively and healthy, we are not winning on any front with that battle.


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:44 #

      Isn’t it ridiculous that it costs more to stay healthy than it does to become obese?


      • laurieanichols May 12, 2012 at 15:43 #

        yes, here in the U.S there is a battle by many activists to get the sugar corporate giants to stop poisoning the poor with cheap low value food choices. Produce is expensive and so is poultry plus, here if you don’t want hormone injected and antibiotic fed meat you have to go organic which costs an arm and a leg. It is sinful.


  11. SchmidleysScribbling May 9, 2012 at 14:51 #

    Tilly here is the link you requested (I think). Well actually not, but i did finally get it in a reply to you on my blog. PS Finding old links is hard for an old woman to do. Dianne


  12. danbohmer May 9, 2012 at 14:53 #

    SPAM is made in my home state of Minnesota. Believe it or not, it is actually very popular in Hawaii.


  13. viveka May 9, 2012 at 16:20 #

    The school food in UK is terrible – lived over there when Jamie started his crusade – terrible, couldn’t believe what crap they where serving to the kids, no wonder they where to tired to go through school. In my days we cycled home for our lunch and got proper food, but food like that would never be aloud in Swedish school. Disgrace.


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:47 #

      It is actually better than it was, believe it or not.


      • viveka May 12, 2012 at 11:47 #

        Yes, I think so too … Jamie did a massive job there.


  14. Pseu May 9, 2012 at 17:38 #

    I have always eaten my food. We were made to anyway, so it wasn’t worth trying not to. If you hadn’t finished your lunch in the first sitting you had to sit there with it congealing in front of you while second sitting came it. And second sitting people had to sit there during first afternoon lesson….
    It was not unknown for a little coercion in the form of a wallop around the head if you weren’t careful as well.

    I hated sago pudding and over cooked sprouts. But I loved liver and onions with mash and for pud, chocolate cracknel 🙂


  15. SchmidleysScribbling May 9, 2012 at 19:32 #

    As for food, I lived on Fritoes, glazed donuts, cokes, and the candy Almond Joy when I was in high school. I also played sports and walked 3 miles home too.


  16. siggiofmaine May 9, 2012 at 22:01 #

    I don’t remember complaining about school lunches…Minnesota and Wisconsin USA. I don’t think they were up to winning the James Beard Medals, but edible, some more than others. I think my early years, the first 6, I had lunches at home.
    As for spam, Dan Bohmer is correct…Hawaiians eat the most Spam…they love it. Spam is precooked in the can, but needs to have the creepy congealed gell removed from it by warming at least a bit. I don’t remember getting spam in school, but my father loved it…
    sliced out of the can, thick, thin, didn’t matter…on bread with sliced dill pickles, mustard, and mayo. A special treat was to slice it thin and fry it til really crispy…that I liked.

    Spam fritters just don’t sound tasty to me if greasy. Recently I tried to eat Spam and thought maybe I’d cancel that idea after the first bite !

    It has been interesting reading every ones experiences with school lunches. Thanks to everyone for sharing, and Tillie for the topic.

    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  17. kateshrewsday May 9, 2012 at 22:09 #

    I see school dinners every day and have to agree with you, Tilly. The Catering franchises who direct the cooks mean there is not always the feeling of pride and ownership in the food we would like. And much as he’s not to my taste, Jamie Oliver has done something towards setting better standards and a role model. Let us home time changes them…


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 10:55 #

      Or the pressure from one child’s blog – last time I checked, she’d had over 100,000 hits!


  18. xtrekki May 10, 2012 at 00:19 #

    At primary school, dinners were a treat. At Grammar school, they were a punishment. dinner money was usually spent at the van selling chips outside. Much healthier than the dinners provided by the school!!


  19. siggiofmaine May 10, 2012 at 22:56 #

    On the local news today, there was a story about a school district in Maine that hired a dietician to go to each school and teach the cooks how to use local produce, fresh produce, create healthy and tasty lunches. The numbers of kids eating the school lunches increased dramatically.
    Peace, Siggi in Downeast Maine


  20. Perfecting Motherhood May 11, 2012 at 02:51 #

    Wow, and I thought American school meals were bad. As I like to say to my kids, I don’t see any green on that plate.


  21. grannymar May 11, 2012 at 17:33 #

    We didn’t do Spam in Ireland and we didn’t do school dinners either. In primary school we brought sandwiches and at secondary level we came home at lunchtime for a mammy dinner. She cooked a second dinner for us in the evening since we all seemed to have hollow legs. We all had muscles like sparrows kneecaps!


  22. Gobetween May 11, 2012 at 20:43 #

    I read the news article online yesterday. I think it is great that her dad supervised and supported her with this blog.


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 11:00 #

      I didn’t know it had gone viral until I read your comment. Wonderful 🙂


  23. bluebee May 12, 2012 at 11:30 #

    Unlike my brother and husband, I never went to boarding school, and the day schools never fed us – we always took our own lunch or could buy hot dogs etc from the tuck shop – but my poor Mum, in desperation to make my packed lunches more varied and interesting, would sometimes come up with the most bizarre sandwich fillings, such as marmite and pineapple – to me, as inedible as spam 🙂


    • Tilly Bud May 12, 2012 at 11:55 #

      Eurggh, eurggh and double eurggh! You poor child 🙂


  24. benzeknees May 12, 2012 at 23:43 #

    We didn’t have the option of school lunches when I was a kid. If you didn’t bring a lunch from home you went hungry. That’s just how it always was, unless a friend shared with you.
    After my children were grown up, I started volunteering at the school in my small community where they would provide breakfast for children who didn’t get breakfast at home (large Native population with overwhelming statistics of alcoholism). Breakfast would consist of toast with jam (no peanut butter even allowed in the school, even if children brought it from home), yogurt, milk & juice, muffins or bagels sometimes.


    • Tilly Bud May 15, 2012 at 11:31 #

      In the area where I live, many schools have breakfast clubs for the same reasons. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that children go without breakfast. It affects their ability to work and their behaviour. I’d be grumpy, too, if I was hungry.


  25. eof737 May 21, 2012 at 06:15 #

    Some schools had bad food and others didn’t. I had pretty good school meals but I know of horror too


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