Why does school food matter?
Food for Life Partnership schools all have stories that show how better food and food culture improve children’s health, behaviour, motivation and ability to learn. For further evidence on the benefits of good school meals visit the School Food Trust’s website. Good school food:
- Improves academic achievement, by improving children’s behaviour and ability to learn.
- Promotes pupils’ health and life chances, and enables families to take control of their own diet.
- Can help bring communities together, by
- developing good food culture and understanding of where food comes from,
- creating stronger links between farmers and communities
- encouraging good manners.
- Allows access to good food for vulnerable children, and
- Is good for British farmers and local jobs, helping to grow the British economy.
What’s the problem?
There have been worrying signs from the Government that school meals are not going to be given the protection they need from the coming budget cuts. We simply cannot afford to put the brakes on the progress being made in the way we feed our children in schools and the way we educate them to feed themselves in future life.
- Former Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley dismissed healthy school dinners as a viable way to improve public health.
- The Government have already refused to extend eligibility to free school meals.
- Local authorities are already being asked to make substantial cuts to their budgets and food is seen as an area to make easy short-term savings.
- The Secretary of State for Education has made academies exempt from the national school food and nutrition guidelines, mandatory in maintained schools.
However, saving on ingredient cost and quality is a false economy. Schools serving good food have found that take-up goes up, and the cost of individual meals goes down (as overheads stay much the same whether a school is serving one-third or two-thirds of pupils). As one Business Services Manager at a Council in South-West England explains, “The key to a low cost in providing a school meals service is not to reduce the food cost but to increase sales and thus spread staff and other overheads further”. Cutting ingredient budgets now would start a cycle of decline that will unravel eight years’ of hard-won improvements to the school meal service.
This campaign is also supported by: