Pilot project to improve food standards in England launches as senior leaders report a growing number of children attending school cold, hungry and tired
A new pilot scheme designed to improve food standards in England’s schools has been launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Department for Education (DfE).
The School Food Standards Compliance pilot will design and test a new approach to helping schools comply with existing requirements to help develop healthy eating habits and ensure children get the energy and nutrition required across the whole school day.
The pilot, announced in the Levelling Up White Paper, incorporates 18 local authorities, including Blackpool Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council, Oldham Council, and Herefordshire Council.
Environmental Health Officers will visit schools throughout the academic year to identify potential non-compliance with current School Food Standards. They will assess menus and advise on salt and sugar levels to ensure children are receiving healthy, nutritionally balanced meals.
Alongside conducting food hygiene inspections, they will observe how food is being served, help schools to instigate supportive interventions to aid compliance, and work with the government to shape food safety visits in the future.
“Schools play a crucial role in providing children with healthy food to help them concentrate and thrive in the classroom and beyond,” said Professor Susan Jebb, FSA chair. “We all want to ensure that the food served in schools meets the standards that have been set. This project will give insight into what’s happening in schools today and identify whether additional support is needed to help them to do the very best they can for children and drive positive change in the school food system.”
“This pilot will help schools meet the school food standards and will ensure more schools offer balanced and nutritious meals to support education throughout the day.”
Nick Gibb, Schools Minister added: “A healthy school meal supports a child’s development. This pilot will help schools meet the school food standards and will ensure more schools offer balanced and nutritious meals to support education throughout the day.”
Councillor Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Oldham Council said, “With the cost of living crisis hitting families hard, school food is more important than ever. Unfortunately, it may be the only proper meal some of our children get, which in this day and age is shocking.”
This point is echoed by research from the Sutton Trust which discovered growing numbers of children attending school cold, tired and hungry because of the cost-of-living crisis. 52% of senior leaders in state schools report increasing numbers of pupils are unable to afford lunch, yet are ineligible for free school meals.
“It’s a scandal that in one of the world’s richest countries growing numbers of children are going without basics such as food and warm clothing,” said Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation. “More and more pupils in England’s most deprived schools are coming to school hungry. It’s a fact that children who arrive at school hungry have difficulty learning.”
“The facts are stark and shaming. Without radical intervention and increased provision for those who need it most, the cost-of-living crisis will produce a decline in social mobility, gravely endangering the long-cherished project of levelling up.”
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