Thursday 12 July 2012
The local authority caterer’s association conference (laca) was a chance to
reflect on how much change has taken place in school meals over the past few
A video link to Jamie Oliver allowed the audience to hear
his views on how much progress has been made on embedding nutritional standards
into everyday school life and some of the threats that may exist to what has
been achieved to date.
He highlighted that Britain is the unhealthiest country in
Europe and that levels of childhood obesity are scandalously high, with 1 in 4
kids going to primary school already obese and this figure rising to 1 in 3 by
the time they go onto secondary education. With 3m kids eating school lunch
daily this is a great opportunity for society to intervene at an early age to
improve public health and educational attainment. It’s the ultimate invest to
save scheme as it costs so much more to deal with the problems of ill health in
later life than it does to address these issues in early life. Of course this
requires joined up thinking at central government level between the Education
and Health Ministers.
As well as strategic policy matters Jamie gave advice on
more operational issues like improving school meal uptake. His view was that
those involved in the delivery of school meals should be trying every trick in
the book to communicate with parents and attempting to build partnerships with
Jamie expressed concerns around the exclusion of free
schools and academies from compliance with nutritional standards and Michael
Gove’s recent announcement of a new review into school meals. His view was that
we already know what the issues are and are making progress on resolving them
so why waste time with another review.
Toby Young gave a talk on how he has established the West
London free school, whilst he was an interesting speaker his story left me
wondering how fair and equitable a fragmented system would be if replicated on a large scale across
Tuesday 19 June 2012
APSE has welcomed the debate about school meals that has been opened up as a result of schoolgirl Martha Payne's blog.
The 'Never Seconds' blog by the nine-year-old from Lochgilphead, Argyll has put school food under the media spotlight. We have campaigned for the highest standards in school food and believes that opening up debate will give school meals the importance they deserve politically.
Martha's blog takes a balanced view and her experience of food at school is positive overall. Though some meals appear less appetising than others, her latest ‘food-o-meter’ score rated her school lunch 10/10.
APSE's data shows that nutritional standards and uptake of primary school meals have risen over the past five years despite the fact that funding has not kept pace with food costs and pressure on education caters' budgets has increased.
Every day, school catering staff freshly prepare, cook and serve thousands of meals for children. The meals are delivered to strict nutritional standards, within a very limited budget and a short timeframe. For some children, school lunch may be the only hot cooked meal they get each day. Whilst there may be variation and caterers don't get everything right all the time, we should applaud their hard work and dedication in delivering school meals to high standards with decreasing budgets. Martha's blog has highlighted that school meals really do matter. Getting children to take an interest in their meals can have positive effects and Martha's blog has given us an opportunity to keep school meals firmly on the political menu.'
Scotland has been in the vanguard of implementing positive school food policies. The Hungry for Success initiative introduced a radically different school meals service that is envied by many other countries. This allocated £137m Government funding between 2003 and 2009 and was backed with robust legislation for food and nutrient standards. This commitment was recently reinforced by its ‘National Food and Drink Policy’. Linking school meals to Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence is at the heart of the drive to tackle the nation's health challenges. School caterers who are sourcing locally are also opening up the supply chain to hard pressed Scottish food producers and suppliers.'
APSE’s data shows that in Scotland's school meals are of a high standard. We continually collect data on good practice and measure performance throughout the UK, so we know that the quality is there and services provided are both innovative and highly rated.
School meals should be fully supported by Ministers and headteachers. Heads need to consider the impact on school food when timetables are condensed leaving less time to serve pupils and for pupils to eat their meals, as this can impact on presentation. Political parties need to understand that school meals should be integrated into school improvement and health measures.
Friday 27 March 2009
At the Queen Elizabeth II centre opposite Parliament today for a Local Authority Caterers Event debating school meals. It's a good turnout and a lot of friends and colleagues are present at the high profile event.
Basically the thrust of the issue is that new nutrient standards are due to be implemented in secondary schools in England in September this year and it is anticipated that this will result in a significant reduction in school meal take up.
The debate receives quite a lot of press coverage but I can't help but wonder if it could end up a slight own goal - it could be spun as caterers putting their own interests before the health of the nations kids - when really it should be invest in our service and work with us and we will improve kids health.
Hopefully the Ladies and Gentlemen of the press will put their moral obligations before an easy target!