A head teacher claims she's been spat at and branded a "food Nazi" after she tried to introduce healthier school meals.
Julie Copley made it her mission to provide more nutritious options at lunchtime for pupils at Radleys Primary School in Walsall after she noticed many of her students had developed unhealthy eating habits at home.
Her efforts have earned the educational establishment an award – but some parents have reportedly turned against her in the process.
"I've been called a 'food Nazi', I've been spat at, I've been threatened, my family and staff have been threatened," she said.
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The sickening abuse came to light at the launch of Walsall director of public health's annual report, Feeding Our Future, where the school scooped up a silver award in the Food For Life initiative after Copley introduced a new menu featuring more fruits and vegetables, reports BirminghamLive.
Social media users were quick to jump to Copley's defence, with one writing: "What kinda thick stupid idiot would threaten the school head for actually providing healthy food. Well done to her," while another chimed in: "You would think parents would want the best for their child."
Meanwhile a third added: "The answer is simple – if parents don't like the food the school provides for their children, they can give them a packed lunch."
But some were more sympathetic to parents who might have opted for school lunches in a bid to save cash.
"There is a misunderstanding here, I think parents are going through financial problems as we all know the economy is not doing great with inflation rising too," one said. "Healthy snacks are not cheap, and children end up eating one fast meal a day to stay full. The government needs to hand fruits and vegetables to students to take home as part of a healthy eating campaign."
Copley said her campaign for better school meals began after she noticed one school pupil named Ben's weight increase at a worrying rate thanks to a diet of fast food and unhealthy snacks at home.
The head teacher went above and beyond to help the youngster in vain before recognising something had to be done at a broader level.
"We decided we had to do something – we took on a personal coach," she recalled. "He had daily exercise routines, we had 'cook and eat' with mum, we did everything we possibly could do but it was useless.
"Our parents are killing our children with kindness. They equate fast food to love. We felt we had to do something. So I signed us up to Food for Life, who have been incredible. It's not been easy but nothing that is worth anything ever is."
Some of Copley's adjustments to the school menu included having meat-free days and adding more vegetarian and vegan options.
The school also paired up with Wintery Lane Allotments in Rushall to encourage kids to grow their own food – and Copley said the changes have brought on a change of attitude.
"We kept pushing through and finally our school meal uptake has gone up and our children are enjoying the food," Mrs Copley added: "Everybody likes comfort food, everybody likes a beige platter. However, it keeps coming back to Ben.
"That's the reason we keep head-butting against parents. That's the reason we keep going with what we do. Every time we have somebody barking at me, I see that young man. Not a statistic, not in a report but in front of me. Literally watching him die and it is that serious."
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