School Dinner Services: Could Do Better?

24 May 2019

By Fiona

School dinner halls aren’t particularly good at catering for everyone. With growing trends in veganism and vegetarianism and the presence of allergies and intolerances, it can be hard to suit everyone’s diets, but this needs to be done!

Veggies and Vegans

Bottom line: if you’re a vegan wanting to use a school dining hall, you’re screwed. Many school salad bars are cross-contaminated as the same tongs are used for dairy, meat and salad. As well as this, non-vegan items are all mixed in together.  From what you are able to eat there is little variety, making school dinners boring and repetitive.

girl with septum piercing and grey t-shirt sits with plate of salad looking extremely disappointed

The food choice is pasta and that’s it. There is also little fruit, which is one of the only things a vegan would be able to eat in a dining hall. Vegetarianism and veganism is a growing trend, with 21% of people eating in this way in the UK. This means that approximately 1 in 5 people have these dietary requirements.

Food Allergies

If you have allergies then the dinner hall can be off limits. There is dairy, gluten and eggs everywhere. The cakes, the sandwiches, the salad bar: all unavailable to people with allergies. 1 in 13 people has allergies, meaning that 8% of the population have these conditions. Also, 40% of people with allergies have more than one.

A lot of the foods in school lunch halls have been cross-contaminated and there are traces of everything everywhere. If you want to have lunch in the dinner hall and you have allergies, make sure to have an Epi-pen ready! An antihistamine will also come in handy; those with allergies need to be fully equipped. Dinner halls need to become allergy friendly; this means they need to be sanitary and have different foods available.

Approximately 29% of people struggle to find food in places because of dietary requirements, so this means schools should be more accommodating, make appropriate food, and a place to eat available!

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