Frustrated Mother Shares Photos of ‘Tiny’ School Lunch Portions

In recent years, Budget cuts across the US have become a bit of a problem. Particularly where schools are concerned. It’s no question that a healthy, satisfying school lunch isn’t always served. Furthermore, children’s bodies grow in spurts, and they require a larger intake of calories to compensate for their growth. It would seem the US isn’t the only country facing this issue. A mom from the UK had an opportunity to see the portion sizes at her son’s school and posted pictures to raise awareness.

Concerns Over a School Lunch

Leanne Pengelly is a 43-year-old mom to 10-year-old Josh. He likely is on the verge of a growth spurt so it’s understandable that he’s so hungry. However, she said that he often comes home complaining of being starving, despite having eaten his whole lunch. Her son attends Millbrook Primary School in Newport, Wales. Leanne went early to pick him up one day and that’s when she got a glance at the tiny school lunch served at mealtime.

My son wasn’t well, so I went to pick him up from school and they gave him his lunch to eat, and I was shocked at how little there was,” she said. “He has always said the meals are small and he’s starving when he gets in from school.”

Asking for Support

Leanne explained that her son’s complaints have led her to reach out to the school district many times. “I brought it up with Millbrook a few years back, but nothing got done and I had never seen the size of them.” Because she’d finally had a chance to see her son’s school lunch for herself, she realized how disproportionate they are.

Raising a child is not only challenging but also costly. It’s helpful when the district is able to provide a school lunch to students. “My son gets free school meals, but it costs me extra money to go out and buy stuff for packed lunches because he’s so hungry.” Continuing, “He is a 10-year-old boy, and they wouldn’t fill a five-year-old up.” One teacher did suggest she bring up the issue to Newport City Council. Unfortunately, she otherwise felt unheard and unsupported by the school’s staff.

An Unpopular, Albeit Valid Point

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the school and city council commented, “All school meals supplied by Newport City Council’s contracted catering company have to meet Welsh Government’s quality standards.” Continuing, “They are nutritious, freshly cooked and affordable. We are sorry this parent felt this meal, which included a pudding, was insufficient but we would urge her to raise her concerns directly with the school. The school sent the meal home with the child, who was unwell, as a gesture of goodwill. It is not something they are legally required to do.”

Many schools have an option to buy a school lunch or bring your own. Moreover, there are some programs that provide free lunches to students of lower income families. Schools are not legally required to provide expensive meals, although they do facilitate learning. Children’s growth and brain development are stunted when they are not provided with healthy and nutritious options. They need meals that are filling and well balanced. This story is an example of how cities may need to reevaluate their budgets and prioritize students’ well-being. Afterall, children are the future and an investment in them, is an investment in our future.


  1. ‘it wouldn’t fill a five-year-old!’: Frustrated mother shares photo of ‘tiny’ school lunch portions.” Daily Mail. Katherine Lawton January 17, 2023.
  2. Mum shares picture of Tiny School dinner that leaves her son hungry every day.” Wales Online. Neil Shaw. January 16, 2023