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Your kids are what they eat

LUNCHTIME: School meals are aiming to become healthier for children. (Photo credit: PA)

NEW STANDARDS for school dinners have seen a rise in nutritious meals being prepared, as chefs get more creative in the kitchen. Since January 2015 when the new standards were put in place, a great deal has been done to ensure that kids are eating healthy, well-balanced meals at school.

The School Food Plan means it becomes mandatory that all food served must be of a certain standard. The scheme launched by the Department for Education is backed by the Save Our Standards Campaign and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Oliver has been at
the forefront when it comes to campaigning for kids to receive healthier food options and free school meals.

Currently any child above year two will have to pay for school dinners unless their parents receive benefits or tax credits. This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May’s manifesto to ban free school dinners and to only provide children with breakfast failed to win the Tories a majority at the last general election. Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said of Mrs May’s move: "If she tries to force through her plans to steal the food from our children’s mouths, we will fight her every step of the way, and a Labour government would make sure all primary school kids get a healthy hot meal at least once a day.”

Teacher Charmaine Bonaparte, of Rhyl Primary School in Kentish Town, said: “We are a healthy eating school, we serve fresh, nutritious food on a daily basis. Our cooks make their own bread from scratch, and the children get the opportunity
to serve at the salad bar.

“Our school in the borough of Camden is currently working with Jamie Oliver and Giorgio Locatelli who are helping us with food. Jamie did his food revolution day at our school. We have a garden where we grow our own produce and sell it to the local cafes. Giorgio cooks pasta and makes salads with the children. We are in the process of trying to get funding to open our very own kitchen.”

HEALTHY

Rhyl Primary School hopes to create a flexible teaching space which will include ovens, hobs, sinks, a dining area, interactive whiteboard and a roof garden. T h e y envisage sliding doors that will open directly onto their school veg plot and an outdoor classroom. However the school still needs funding and has launched the #rhylkitchen campaign in order for this project to become a reality. Although this sounds like a great initiative, it is a far cry from other schools in the UK.

Health Activator Jessica Mark, from the London PE & Sports Network, said: “School dinners have come a long way. They now have to consider the Food School Plan and stick to various guidelines. Ultimately it will depend on the school’s food policy, and some input from the headmaster. It is wonderful to see all the considerable changes that have been made over the years, but there is always room for improvement.”

On a whole it seems as though major changes have been made. Local boroughs have even taken into consideration the diversity of different communities and the availability of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. School meals now have to meet the Government’s rigorous nutritional standards, which have been put in place to ensure healthier meals and give children what they need to develop, grow and lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Parents should be able to send their children to school and be sure their child is eating a healthy and well-balanced meal during
the day, whether paid for or free.

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