The Government's made a u-turn on its decision to ban chips from school menus and Bucks dinner ladies say it's just as well or they would be dealing with riots.

The Government's made a u-turn on its decision to ban chips from school menus and Bucks dinner ladies say it's just as well or they would be dealing with riots.

So while school is back and so are chips there are still a new set of compulsory nutritional regulations for dinner ladies to follow.

'We give the children at the school a choice,' says catering manager Sheila Young, who works at The Cressex School, High Wycombe.

'Everything we have is oven baked so it is all prepared in the healthiest way possible. We also have our own set of standards as well as the Government's. We have chips but we also have a healthy salad bar with 10 or 11 different dishes.

'We would have had a riot if we took chips off the menu.'

Concern over children's health has been an issue since the early 1900s and the first set of nutritional standards were implemented in the 1940s.

The Government's new standards for lunches vary for each age group and will take effect in schools between now and September next year.

Those under secondary school age will have stricter controls on the nutritional content of their food but the DfEE say that pupils at secondary and middle-deemed secondary schools should have the choice.

The DfEE says in its proposed requirements that: 'A balanced food selection must be available to all secondary pupils, but they will be free to choose any item or combination of items.

'We believe that local health education and promotion strategies are the key to improving pupils' food selection.'

Sharon Jarrett, deputy head of The Wye Valley School, in Bourne End, explained that the school has regular meetings with its contract caterers to discuss the menu that is available to their pupils.

She said: 'Our students learn about a healthy diet and nutrition in their PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) lessons, but they still tend to veer towards the pizzas.

'The girls like the salads and the less fatty foods, but the boys are quite happy with a packet of crisps while playing football on the playground.'

A Gallup eating habits survey, taken last year, revealed that 25 per cent of parents depend on schools to feed their children healthily and as many as 40 per cent of pupils skip breakfast and many others go without a proper meal at night.

Melanie Wright, senior dietician at Wycombe Hospital, explained that according to statistics we have far more obesity in children now than we have ever had.

She said: 'The contents of a balanced school lunch should include a portion of protein, some sort of starchy food, a portion of vegetables and some fruit for pudding. Also a drink like water or fruit juice, no fizzy drinks.

'We always advise people to have breakfast, as they say 'Breakfast like a King and lunch like a pauper'. What you eat does effect the way you function in day-to-day life.'

Dieticians at Wycombe Hospital are hoping to work more closely with schools and the community in the near future and feel it's important to educate people on healthy eating.

Breakfast Clubs have been introduced at some schools in the area to encourage the children to eat the most important meal of the day.

The Cressex School and The Wye Valley School are two of the schools that have opened up in the mornings for children to eat breakfast, but both schools stopped it due to lack of demand.

One of the proposed Government requirements concerning starchy foods is 'Schools must not serve chips, roast potatoes or other fried potatoes more than three times a week'.

This proposal came after they backed down on their original pledge to banish chips from school dinner menus.

The Government has remained adamant that its pro-chip policy is intended to encourage pupils to stay in the school canteen, where other healthier foods, such as baked potatoes and salads, are just as freely available.

Wye Valley deputy head Mrs Jarrett added: 'I don't think that taking chips off the menu would be a problem in a school that doesn't allow it's pupils off site at break, because a hungry child has to and will eat something.'