LACA head questions value of Gove's school food review plan
Lynda Mitchell, chair of the school caterers organisation LACA, has expressed her concerns about plans by Education Secretary Michael Gove to use the entrepreneurs behind the Leon restaurant change to carry out a review of school food.
Opening LACA's 2012 Traning and Development Forum, she said she feared the most likely outcome when Leon's John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby report back to Gove in late spring 2013 is that the industry will hear a familiar story.
"There will either be the usual excuses for not acting on a review - there's no money, there's no evidence or - my favourite - 'we trust the heads to deliver healthy, nutritious meals'.
"Or, I suspect, we'll get well-intentioned proposals that will be picked up by the few, leaving us to carry them out without funding or support from the vast majority of disinterested heads."
She said the areas the review intended to cover included looking at best practice here and abroad, how to promote school meal take-up, encouraging greater use of fresh, seasonal produce on school menus and offering schools a programme to promote healthier diets.
"Forgive me if I've missed something here, but don't we already have the School Food Trust, the Million Meals campaign, Jamie and the Soil Association and Change4Life already doing these things?"
She questioned the qualifications of Vincent and Dimbleby to carry out the review, saying they not only had no background in school catering, but had been change management consultants before setting up their Leon chain of High Street restaurants.
"Their action plan will not be ready until summer of 2013, by which time academies and free schools will have been without school food standards for two years and it will be even more difficult to bring them into line with maintained schools, which have to comply."
The training and development forum, which comprises workshops, a two-day conference, awards, competitions and an exhibition boasting more than 170 suppliers runs until Friday, July 13th.