Parents who dare to care

PUBLISHED: 14:28 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

Jamie Oliver publicising his new Channel 4 programme in which he looks back at his school diners campaign

Jamie Oliver publicising his new Channel 4 programme in which he looks back at his school diners campaign

There is a rustling in the bushes and a tall dark figure emerges. Moving towards the gate it extends out its arm, its hand clutching a lump of steaming white paper. Another hand, this time smaller, younger, stretches out through the gate. It collects the

There is a rustling in the bushes and a tall dark figure emerges.

Moving towards the gate it extends out its arm, its hand clutching a lump of steaming white paper.

Another hand, this time smaller, younger, stretches out through the gate. It collects the package and withdraws back through the gate.

A voice mumbles "thanks mum" and the smaller figure begins to eat.

The revelations that parents of pupils at a school in South Yorkshire are sneaking food in to their children through school gates is enough to stir anybody's imagination.

At first I thought these parents had just heard that a Madrid fashion show had banned skinny models from participating in one of their shows and had decided to go and fatten up their kids in the hope of making them stars of the catwalk.

However, it wasn't to be. One parent said: "The children aren't eating what the school provides in the cafeteria because they don't like the quality of the food.

"They prefer to come to us to have their food delivered fresh and hot, which is what they're asking for."

There are a few serious points here.

Who is in control of the children's diet? The Government, the parents, the children or Jamie Oliver?

The celebrity chef has done a pretty impressive job in highlighting the plight of dinners in some schools and he deserves all the praise he has received for this.

People are actually beginning to care about what their kids eat. OK, that's a tad unfair. There were plenty of parents who cared about their children's diets before Jamie's campaign, but I bet there were others across the UK who didn't give it much consideration.

The problem we now have is who is in charge and does it matter?

Well, on the evidence of these parents sneaking food in to their children, nobody is entirely in charge and yes it does matter.

It was only a small percentage of parents who dropped food off to their kids, but the fact that they felt compelled to do so is quite important.

Was it over the top? Maybe. Do we know what food was given to their kids? Not exactly. What we do know though is that these parents do care about what their kids eat and, whether this is healthy food or not, it's a good sign.

# A recent Work Foundation report, commissioned by the Government, has concluded that UK citizens are willing to pay more for the services provided by the BBC.

Rightly so.

I don't think paying £11 a month is too much to be able to watch and listen to all of the channels the BBC provides. In fact 94 per cent of the UK population tuned in to the terrestrial channels alone last year. This is without considering the digital and radio channels.

No wonder people are wising up and realise they are on to a good thing.

The only viable alternative would be to introduce commercials during programming. But who wants that?

The BBC is not flawless. The Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly is a good example of that - whether you agree with it or not.

But the quality of TV and lack of advertising makes it stand out as value for money.

As well as the TV and radio programming, the licence fee also contributes towards the running of bbc.co.uk which last year was visited by over half of UK households with internet access.

It has a huge archive of news and television information and all kinds of nonsense, as well as showing BBC programmes online.

How much of your licence fee pays for this each month? 36p.

The licence fee is a bargain, and I'm glad to see the recent Work Foundation report shows that UK citizens are wising up to this.

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