School Dinners

‘School Dinners’ are, to the best of my knowledge, a uniquely British invention. I can’t believe another nation laying claim to this unique style of ‘cuisine’.


School dinners were introduced at the start of the 20th Century to ensure that poorer members of the community had at least one ‘square meal‘ a day, they continue to this day, albeit in a very different form.  


After investigating, there seems to be remarkably little difference in people’s recollections of school dinners between the finest public schools, in the land and the humble primary school I attended in the sixties. Everybody seems to share the same dubious memories – meals including overcooked, unrecognisable ingredients, ‘mystery meat’ pies, and semolina desserts.

All overseen by the ever present ‘lunchtime assistant’ or ‘dinner lady’ as they were fondly known.

Has anybody actually eaten semolina since leaving school? I’ve never met anyone!


In recent years school dinners changed to include a much higher proportion of fast foods, including chips and burgers. This prompted the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to launch a high profile campaign to introduce healthier foods into schools.


Bizarrely, at about the same time there was a craze for restaurants selling retro ‘school dinner’ meals, often accompanied by scantily clad ‘St Trinians’ style waitresses in pseudo school uniforms.


Or so I’m reliably informed, I wouldn’t try such things myself, honest matron!