Education bosses in Staffordshire have welcomed the School Food Plan announced by the Department for Education today.
The plan urges head teachers to ban packed lunches that can often be unhealthy, and promises to investigate extending the free school meals entitlement. It also puts forward a number of measures, such as after-school cooking lessons for parents and children and encouraging teachers to site in the dining hall, to make hot school meals at lunchtime a more attractive option.
School meals in Staffordshire are now run by Entrust, the Staffordshire County Council and Capita joint venture designed to bring improved and innovative support services to schools in the region.
County Councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills welcomed the report. He said:
“It is well documented that children who are provided with a quality, healthy and nutritionally well balanced meal improve their learning and concentration, so it is extremely important our children have access to meals in school. We have been working hard to ensure school meals are the most attractive option for parents in terms of cost, taste and choice. There are tremendous benefits from investing in decent cooked meals in schools, namely we can ensure children are getting at least one healthy nutritious meal a day which we know leads to increased learning. “There are also benefits for the wider economy. We use local suppliers wherever possible, which reduces transport costs and makes the most of our local businesses. We also talk to schools, suppliers and parents on a regular basis to ensure we are getting it right in terms of the choice and quality on offer."
Mike Osborne-Town, managing director of Entrust, said:
“We welcome this announcement, not least because nutritionally balanced diets will help support children’s attainment at school. Entrust employ a senior executive chef and food development team to create menus and food items designed to maximise participation rates within schools. We are also involving local suppliers, showcasing the best of British produce in the supply chain for school meals. We are seeing continued growth in children wanting to choose a diverse range of food items with a focus on fresh and healthy choices. Our current school meal uptake sits between 45% and 60% and anything the government can do to support further increases would be welcomed."