School Food Plan
The Government’s School Food Plan 2013 and beyond
You may have heard about Michael Gove, MP, Secretary of State for Education and The School Food Plan that he asked the Leon restaurateurs, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent to create. It was launched on Friday 12th July 2013. It is having a profound impact on school meals and there is a website that gives more details and a full copy of the report at www.schoolfoodplan.com. Here we have summarised the main points including details of new free meals for Key Stage One. This covers reception, year 1 and year 2 classes.
The aim of the plan is to build on all the good work that has gone on since 2005 and the work Jamie Oliver did. It is about creating a culture of “food and happiness”. School food has to stick to national nutritional standards that will become food based standards from September. This means that parents can be assured their child will receive a healthy and nutritious meal five days a week at lunch time.
Here are some of the key points from The School Food Plan: -
- The aim is to weave school catering into the whole school day with cooking, growing and eating combining into an educational experience. The effect will be to teach young people skills about healthy lifestyles that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
- The current level of school meals is on average 43% of pupils on roll and this needs to be much higher if schools want to break even so maximum resources go into teaching. Take-up needs to be well above 50% if the £140 million national subsidy is to be removed.
- Some parents believe that a packed lunch is the healthier option but research by Leeds University showed that only 1% of packed lunches in school met the current nutritional standards. It is a very difficult task to create a balanced healthy packed lunch five days a week and it is suggested that a school meal is the best option. Out of interest almost £1 billion is spent on packed lunches every year.
- There is a serious health risk at present. Almost 20% of children are obese by the time they leave Primary School and obesity is costing the NHS £10 billion every year.
- The plan is not like a traditional Government plan. It is full of actions with named people responsible for delivering those actions. These will transform what children eat at school and what they learn about food.
- The SFT website says, “Increasing take-up is not something that can be done from the top-down. It requires a cultural change within each school. It means cooking food that is both appetising and nutritious; making the dining hall a welcoming place; keeping queues down; getting the price right; allowing children to eat with their friends; getting them interested in cooking and growing.” The person to create this is the Headteacher. However, the plan correctly identifies that Headteachers need help and support to make this happen. There is a checklist for headteachers with a short guide on the practical steps required. This includes everything from throwing out prison style trays and getting teachers to eat in the dining hall, to banning packed lunches (it can be done as some schools have demonstrated). The checklist can be found at the end of the plan.
- Many studies have shown that a well nourished child will fare better at school. This starts with a good breakfast and continues through the day. Children need a good, nutritious lunch to help them recharge their batteries for afternoon lessons. This is why the Government has introduced free school meals for Key Stage One children starting from September 2014.
- To support this, the Government is introducing cookery lessons into the National Curriculum up until the age of 14. This will include where food comes from and being able to recognise different ingredients.
- All schools including academies will now have to comply with the simpler but just as effective food based standards so there will be one rule for all.
- The plan concludes by saying “Good food provision in schools has been shown to lead not only to healthier children, but to improved attainment. We hope this plan will help to create a generation of children who enjoy food that makes them healthier, more successful and, most importantly, happier.
- To read more and see the latest news please go to the School Food Plan website at http://www.schoolfoodplan.com.