LACA 'disappointed' by yet another school food review
The decision by Education Secretary Michael Gove to ask the founders of the High Street restaurant chain Leon to look into school food is cause for concern according to LACA national chair Lynda Mitchell.
Responding to the announcement today that John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby will look at how to take school meals to the next level, with their action plan due for delivery in 2013, Lynda said: "LACA is disappointed at today’s announcement by Michael Gove that another review of school food is to take place and not report until 2013.
"Whilst bringing in catering operators from outside the school meals sector may provide a different view, we remain concerned about the time this will take and the impact on the lives and attainment of the children who will not receive the benefits of good, nutritious food in school in the meantime.
“In light of this announcement, as the voice of the industry, LACA expects to be consulted to bring our expertise and front line experience of school food delivery and working with schools to this review.
"We hope it will lead to a clear commitment from the Government to ensure that children in all schools have the same access to healthy nutritious food. Most of all, we look forward to undertakings that there will no longer be a two-tier system in this country which sees some pupils in academies and free schools outside the nutritional standards, and there will be a robust system of monitoring and compliance applicable to all schools.
“The Food and Nutrient Standards in England are regarded as among the best in the world and have been delivering health and education benefits for children and young people in our schools over recent years.
"The School Food Trust has reported back on the benefits of the standards and England now leads the way in healthy food in schools across the world; only last month an American delegation visited schools and organisations responsible for delivering school food here, to learn from our model and expertise."
Leon founders Vincent and Dimbleby have been tasked with drawing up an action plan to accelerate improvement in school food and determine the role of food more broadly in school life.
Gove said: “There has been an improvement in school food in recent years with many schools transforming school dinners, introducing food growing into the curriculum and teaching cookery.
“However, there is still more to do particularly in taking localised successes and ensuring they are replicated nationally.
“Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent bring a wealth of practical experience in delivering good food on a budget.
“I am delighted they have agreed to develop a robust plan to improve schools food and ensure children are given an education that cultivates in them an understanding of food and nutrition.”
Vincent said: "We have a mission at Leon to make it easy for everybody to eat good food. We do it commercially with Leon, and so we are energised by the chance to do so with school food.
“We join a powerful and growing team of people who have done so much. What we all now need is an action plan that gets to grips with exactly how the ideas and dreams can be implemented for all kids, and stick."
Dimbleby added: “There is so much good work being done to improve school food by people in schools around the country. Our job is to find out which schools are doing well and why.
“This is a great opportunity to work with those people to set out in a systematic way what needs to be done to nurture and accelerate those improvements.”
Gove’s announcement acknowledged that over the last decade there had been a big change of attitude towards school food and significant improvement in many schools.
He said this was the result of work done by a large array of people, including the School Food Trust, associated charities such as School Food Matters and Jamie Oliver’s Foundation along with individual cooks, teachers, parents, pupils, outside caterers and local authorities who have “embraced the cause”.
“However in both maintained schools and academies there is a lot of work still to do,” he said.
Dimbleby and Vincent will address two basic questions:
How will we get our children eating well in school?
What more needs to be done to make tasty, nutritious food available to all school children?
They plan to visit schools, talk to pupils, caterers, teachers and parents and draw up a plan of action to be unveiled in 2013.