Parents should ration children’s pocket money to stop them buying sweets and fizzy drinks on the way to school, according to Prue Leith, the government’s new school meals adviser.
Miss Leith said she would rather pupils stopped eating packed lunches and were hungry at lunchtime when they would get a healthy school meal.
Miss Leith who took up her post as chair of the government’s School Food Trust last week, said: ‘I would like parents to think about how much money they give to children to spend, so-called pocket money which they are given daily.
‘Frequently in the end children will buy something on the way to school – a chocolate bar or fizzy drink – and I think that’s mad.
‘I would far rather parents gave their children pocket money all at once on a Saturday because if they end up with £5, they are more likely to go and buy something like a baseball cap or a video.
‘If they get it one pound a day they will dribble it away on chocolate bars.’
School food reforms
Ministers set up the trust to oversee the government’s school food reforms after TV chef Jamie Oliver’s Feed Me Better campaign two years ago.
The government moved to ban junk food from canteens and vending machines and has given pupils an entitlement to learn cookery at school.
The School Food Trust website has advice for parents on how to prepare healthy packed lunches for children, she said.
Parents’ groups attacked Miss Leith’s remarks. Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said parents have to give their children money every day so they can buy school lunches. Most also give ‘pocket money’ once a week.
‘She needs to look at the system before she starts to criticise parents and children,’ Mrs Morrissey said.