Whether you have good or bad memories of school dinners, they’re certainly memorable – and are coming under increasing scrutiny.
According to the British Government, “[f]ood served in some schools and academies in England must meet the school food standards so that children have healthy, balanced diets… They must provide:
- – high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish
- – fruit and vegetables
- – bread, other cereals and potatoes
There can’t be:
- – drinks with added sugar, crisps, chocolate or sweets in school meals and vending machines
- – more than 2 portions of deep-fried, battered or breaded food a week.”
So far, so good!
However, across the UK the picture is patchy when it comes to whether school meals are up to scratch. According to The Blackpool Gazette, a recent local council survey of primary school lunch menus in Blackpool found that nearly a third were not complying with government set standards. Dr Arif Rajpura, Blackpool Director of Public Health, said: “The scrutiny committee is concerned over the level of non-compliance across Blackpool schools which is likely to be having a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of children across Blackpool. The school lunch time offer is a great opportunity to ensure our children receive at least one healthy meal a day… Over the course of the next few months public health want to work with schools to review their menus and support their catering teams in achieving this standard.”
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the Department of Education is looking to restrict the amount of red meat served in school meals, as well as restricting chips and roast potatoes to one serving a week. The Department want to update the current rules that date back to 2007 to reflect more up-to-date research and guidance on healthy eating.
The proposed changes to nutritional standards will also include:
- – each meal will have two portions of vegetables and one portion of fruit, up from the current requirement for two portions of both fruit and vegetables
- – primary schools will only be allowed to serve processed red meat one day a week, whilst pupils over 11 years of age will be only served meat products twice a week
- – all rice and pasta served would have to be wholegrain or high-fibre
- – half of all sandwiches offered will be served on wholegrain bread
- – salt will not be offered to pupils after their meal has been cooked
- – ketchup and other sauces will only be permitted two days a week
- – no sugar, jam, honey or marmalade will be available
Some 100,000 pupils in Northern Ireland are eligible for free school meals, so these changes will make a real difference to healthy eating for school children in the region if these changes are ratified. Coupled with consumer pressure for healthier meals for their children, watch this space for more councils to take action when it comes to healthy school dinners.
This year’s theme for International School Meals Day is ‘Sharing Our Success’. This year, therefore, the day is designed to encourage children to think about their favourite foods, discussing where food comes from and who provides it, and the opportunities that eating allows for sharing time with family, friends and the wider community. This theme really goes hand in hand with the current trends of more transparent supply chains, food recipes from traditional family traditions and comfort food, and mindful occasion eating – as well as celebrating the rich diversity of meal traditions and preferences in each and every classroom.
Did you know that the Our Earth range is low salt, allergen free and vegan friendly? Perfect for catering to all dietary needs of any age! Have a look at our range at www.our-earth.com – we’re looking to expand the range in the future, so watch this space for even more revolutionary launches for the modern food industry!
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