Caterer and Hotelkeeper, in partnership with the Local Authority Caterers Association, last week launched a campaign called School Meals Matter.
Its aim is to call on the post-election government to continue its commitment to school dinners beyond March 2011, when the £280m in transitional funding is scheduled to cease.
Full details here.
But what other ways can take-up of school dinners be increased?
How do we ensure that children are heading to the canteen to enjoy the healthy option?
Why limit your efforts to educating kids when it's the parents that have the greatest power to change diets? I think the government should be ploughing more cash into adult education, so that parents know not to feed their children chocolate, crisps and chips. If kids get used to eaing fruit and veg at home, they'll be more likely to head for the school dining room and eat nutritious meals there.
Northern Sky:I think the government should be ploughing more cash into adult education, so that parents know not to feed their children chocolate, crisps and chips.
Nice idea, but I don't see the govt parting with the cash needed to drive it. It's a bit of a vicious circle reallu. we need to do all we can so that the next gen of parents start feeding their kids properly from the start. your idea to tackle the problem grom both ends is a good one but it takes money. it always comes back to money.
I agree. We can't afford more lost generations to pass through the school system not knowing one vegetable from another, while we try to educate adults for some future gain. We need to go straight to source, ie educate the children themselves. Who knows, they might even start educating their parents.
There are some parents out there who could definitely benefit from a lesson in healthy eating. I've heard some absolute horror stories about what some children are taking to school in their lunch boxes.
The worst and most heartbreaking was of a five-year old who'd brought in for his lunchtime meal a packet of iced biscuits and a can of Red Bull. I'm not sure either really qualify as actual food!
alternatively, school caterers could start holdng more sessions which involve both the parents and kids. the hard part is getting the parents to come in. i've a mate whose a teaher and he reckons its hard enough to get them in for parents evening, let alone anuthing else.
Let's not forget the role of the headmaster in all this. There's little point in trying to feed kids well if the focus on health and wellness is carried through to the classroom, playground and sports field. The Headmaster must take responsibility for engendering "whole school" solution to the problem.
Jamie Oliver has been strangely quiet on the subject of school meals lately. Has he lost interest? Or perhaps he feels he's done as much as he can. I would have thought now would be an ideal time for him to re-engage, with a General Election around the corner. Where are you, Jamie? Mind you, he's a magazine mogul now, and a father once again.
New question: the general assumption is that school meals matter. But do they?
We asked two industry figureheads to share their views.
School meals champion Beverley Baker, chair of the Local Authority Caterers Association, will go head-to-head with Pride of Britain Hotels chief executive Peter Hancock in a forthcoming issue of Caterer magazine (30 April).
But what do you think? Would the cash be better spent elsewhere? Or is it still important we save our school meals?
The cash must be invested in school meals because of the huge savings that will accrue to the NHS in years to come. Also school meals educates children in other ways such asa how to use a knife and fork, good social skills over a table such as saying please and thank you. These skills are not always taught at home. On top of that school meals are the first introduction to eating away from home on a regualr basis and trying many different types of food. If the industry got behind school caterers more then again the benefits will accrue later, such as more people interested in food and hospitality so they want to work in the industry and/or be regular customers. Who could reasonably argue against an investment in school meals as it makes sound economic sense. I urge everyone to get behind the LACA/Caterer campaign and in this year's National School Meals Week on Tuesday 9th November there will be a great opportunity to do just this. So please look out for more details soon.
We're running a comment in this week's issue that argues that more doesn't ned to be spent on school meals - we just need a new system of delivery. It may mean less choice for children and for them to take more of an active role in clearing tables, but it has reduced costs in Finland.
FCSI education consultant Richard Wedgbury says that there meals cost £1.30 and that if the government can subsidise the 30p we can get to the magic £1 a meal mark.
The question is will children give up choice and take on light cleaning? Sounds like a tough sell to me
I think school meals are crucial. In my household we have a bit of a silly situation where one child takes a packed lunch to school and the other one has "school meals". While you would probably assume that this is a hot meal, it rarely is and my daughter often ends up buying a sandwich for her lunch. But because I'm aware of what she has, I know that I definitely have to provide them both with a proper meal in the evening.
Sadly, this isn't the case in all homes and for some kids their school meal is the only decent meal they get all day. The problem is, what if they're just buying a sandwich like my own daughter? I know my kids are well fed, but I can point to a dozen of their friends who aren't.
If we care about the diets of our children and we don't want excess pressure put on the NHS in years to come because of poor diets, then we have to take a greater interest in what children eat and the only place to really police this is in schools. For me, that's why this subject is so hugely important.
This post offers a timely reminder of how crucial and central eating is to our lives. I know, I know, that sounds trite - we all need fuel to survive - but the acts of eating and cooking also stuimulate our creativity, broaden our minds geographically and make us more well-rounded human beings, better able to interact socially.
have you seen the new KFC "sandwich"? It's bacon between two pieces of fried chicken. I hope your daughter is buying something a little healthier ...
Bloody hell, that's vile!
It worries me that image conscious girls might consider that a low carb alternative, a la Dr Atkins.