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school meals

School Meals

The Government introduced new statutory nutritional standards for school lunches in 2001.  The information in this section can be used to find out about the legislation, guidance, research and support that is available.

Schools and local authorities must meet nutritional standards laid down by the Government in an effort to improve the quality of food children eat and help curtail the rising cases of obesity among school children.  Good health is important for everyone.  The Government wants to secure, maintain and improve children’s and young people’s health.

In March 2005 the Secretary of State announced a package of measures designed to improve significantly the quality of school meals.  These included:

  • new nutritional standards for school food;
  • the establishment of a School Food Trust to advise and support the implementation of better school food;
  • additional, transitional funding to authorities and schools of £220m between 2005 and 2008;
  • new qualifications for catering staff;
  • new arrangements for monitoring the standards through Ofsted;
  • priority within the school capital programme for the building and refurbishment of kitchens.

Following the confirmation in May 2006 of the final standards for school food, further measures to improve school food were announced in September 2006.  These were:

  • £240m of new funding to subsidise ingredients for healthy meals in schools from 2008 until 2011.  This will ensure that all schools have the money they need to continue to provide healthy meals to everyone;
  • the establishment of a network of regional training centres for school cooks to improve their cookery skills.  Experts on cooking dishes that meet the new tough standards will train, support and mentor school cooks, including supporting them in their own school;
  • new plans to give every secondary school pupil an entitlement to learn to cook from 2008.  All pupils who wish to will now be able to take lessons on basic cookery skills allowing them to leave school with a ‘licence to cook’ giving them knowledge to prepare a range of healthy meals;
  • further measures to improve the quality of school kitchens, including: making capital funding available for building school kitchens where there is need; issuing new design guidance on kitchens and dining areas to be published early 2007; reinforcing kitchens as a priority in all other building guidance; and a planned review of School Premises Regulations to include a greater specification on standards that kitchens should meet;
  • Defra-led activity supporting small and local food producers to create regional or sub-regional groups that would be invited to bid to supply food; securing greater commitment to the Government’s Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative from leaders in the education sector (and other public sectors); and a programme of activity to reconnect young people with the food chain, farming and the countryside.



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