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Weather : pleasant. We managed to watch about half of the last episode of Sherlock last night before griping stomach pains and general tiredness sent me to bed early.

I note the furore about free school milk over the weekend. I'm one of the generation that had their milk snatched in the early 70s, but I can't recall it ever being something that I looked forward to. In the winter the milk would be frozen with bits of ice in it, but it was worse in the summer when the crate would sit outside the classroom in the sunshine for a couple of hours before morning break. This would leave the third of a pint bottles curdled and sour, and I can still recall the vague feeling of nausea after drinking one. We were not allowed to leave any, even if it took the whole of break time to force it down, probably because there were starving children in India if I recall correctly.

The scheme nowadays only applies to children under five in pre-school nurseries and costs somewhere upwards of £50m to run. Malnutrition is not the same problem that it was in the post war years when the scheme was introduced (and originally for all school age children up to 16, which surprised me). A purely sceptical, scientific approach would make scrapping the scheme and replacing it with targeted alternatives a no-brainer. There would certainly be greater health benefits from providing overweight children with a bit of fruit or fresh veg for a snack instead of crisps and chocolate, for example.

So, why the outcry about milk, particularly from the sort of middle class parents who would be likely to pack their little Tarquins and Jocastas off with healthy food in their lunch boxes already? I suspect that we won't see the same complaints from the parents of the poor kids who pass fish and chips through the bars at lunchtime for their Turkey Twizzler deprived offspring.

It is more worrying that we seem to be heading back to government by spin and soundbite, where all policies have to approved by running them past the Daily Mail features writers first and then cost analysed with the net effect on Rupert Murdoch's balance sheet quantified.

Not a good precedent.

Date: 2010-08-09 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shullie.livejournal.com
for some kids the milk they get at school is the only 'real' food they get all day- indeed the only pure dairy they receive... and interestingly malnutrition is making comeback, especially children from poorer backgrounds ( in 209 somewhere around 240 people in uk died from it) as is Rickets (been some research in Birmingham) Measles, Mumps, Consumption ( TB as it's called now), Syphilis, Gonorrhoea ... back to the good old days it's seems!

Date: 2010-08-10 12:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amberb-uk.livejournal.com
Wasn't a Tory government always run by tabloid consent? Thatcher was the ultimate in soundbite, populist politics and we shouldn't forget that.

The milk I got at primary school was never off or frozen, it arrived early and was kept in the school kitchen at the rear of the building out of the sun or cold. It may have been at room temperature by morning break, but at least it was always palatable and welcomed. I had school friends on the nearby council estate who only ever got to drink milk at school, who had bad skin, hair and teeth because of a poor diet at home. The dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables they got with their free (with vouchers) school meals was a treat for them that they would have been far worse off without.

The present government seems to be full of new Ministers trying to make a name for themselves by pushing forward with announcements from their shiny new departments without acting as part of a whole (mind you new governments do take a while to understand how a good Cabinet works). We've had a fair few of those kind of screw-ups so far. Coalitions can fail too easily if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, we know that from the experience of other European nations. This country needs a better government than that.

Date: 2010-08-10 05:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badriya.livejournal.com
I was the post war generation, school from 1951-68, and we had milk all the way through. I didn't drink it, we didn't have to and I didn't like it. B hated it too and was made to drink it until he vomited it all over and from then on was excused.

I agree targetted fruit and/or wholemeal cereal bars instead would be better.

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