The Food for Life Partnership welcomes Government’s plans for free school meals for 5-7 year olds

18 September 2013

The Soil Association’s Food for Life Partnership Director Libby Grundy said; “This announcement of free lunches for 5-7 year olds is an investment in all our children’s health and education of major significance, but it is important to reassure parents there will be no compromise on quality. Not only must these meals meet the school food standards, but parents would be reassured by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark, which already accredits over 20% of UK school meals for freshness, quality and provenance, without any increase in meal price.

“As lead partner of the Food for Life Partnership, the Soil Association backs the call to extend this to all primary school children, but is concerned that pre-school children – who arguably need this most - are being forgotten.”

Further comment:

“Good nutrition is vital throughout childhood, but it’s especially important in younger years. It is hard for parents to make packed lunches as nutritious as a school meal so this new approach will ensure children get a balanced, nutritious meal at lunch time, setting them up for the rest of the day and increasing concentration, as evidence has shown. Increasing the number of pupils eating school meals helps bring prices down, allowing quality to rise for parents of older children too. Finally, this step will help remove the stigma of free school meals which puts off around 20% of eligible disadvantaged children from claiming their entitlement.

“Nick Clegg’s other big innovation this September is the new early education places for 130,000 disadvantaged 2-year olds, but free lunches are not included in this despite evidence of the critical importance of good nutrition for early years. This is despite the fact that the means test for the 2 year old entitlement is whether the family is eligible for free school meals for their school-age children. To complete the positive news, it is vital that the opportunity is taken to get free healthy lunches into the mouths of these children that need it most.

“Some of the 4500 schools in the Food for Life Partnership, such as the Oval Primary in Birmingham, have in the past chosen to fund free school meals out of their own pockets for their reception classes, and have demonstrated that it helps to increase the take-up of healthy school meals by all pupils for the rest of their time at school.”

ENDS
For further information, please contact:

FFLP school case studies and access to head teachers and public health commissioners for interview and quotations are available.
Soil Association: Natasha Collins-Daniel - Press Office Manager – 0117 914 2448 / 07827 925380
Ncollins-daniel@soilassociation.org @SoilAssociation

NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Food for Life Partnership has created network of over 4,500 schools across England committed to transforming their food culture. It supports them to provide fresh, well-sourced and nutritious meals and improve their overall lunchtime experience. It helps children, adults and teachers understand the importance of good nutrition and where their food comes from through practical cooking and growing activities and farm visits.
The initiative is led by the Soil Association, bringing together the practical expertise of Focus on Food, Garden Organic, the Health Education Trust and the Royal Society for Public Health.
It is free for schools in England to enrol and provides a wealth of resources to support their progress through the award framework.
To find out more and download our media pack, visit www.foodforlife.org.uk/media


The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark is an independent endorsement which guarantees freshly prepared and healthy menus outside of the home in nurseries and schools as well as in hospitals, universities and the work place.
The Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers encourage caterers to make step-by-step progress to improve the food they serve, using fresh ingredients which are free from undesirable additives and GM, and better for animal welfare. The Silver and Gold Standards recognise food providers who are taking further steps to serve local, environmentally and ethically sourced food, and to make healthy eating easier.

School Food Plan Pg. 127 – School Food Plan http://www.schoolfoodplan.com/plan/ Project evaluation Find out more about the impact of the Food for Life Partnership www.foodforlife.org.uk/evaluation

The Oval Primary Located in Birmingham, the Oval is a shining example of a school that has fully integrated the Food for Life Partnership across its school curriculum for the benefit of the children. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is twice the national average; over a third of pupils have learning difficulties and almost half are from minority ethnic groups.
The school was judged ‘Outstanding’ in a 2010 Ofsted survey of its personal, social and health education provision, and it was noted that the school’s FFLP activities successfully and actively engaged staff, pupils and parents in “improving the quality of food across the school and beyond”.
The Oval Primary School, Whittington Oval, Yardley, Birmingham B33 8JG, 0121 464 3248
 






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