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Joined up thinking for improving food culture in the next generation

I guess I’m in the lucky position that food & food culture has been woven deeply within me and my life from a very early age. Both my parents are chefs and they had food businesses from when I was born until I turned 18, but the food influence didn’t stop there as I then went on to having a career in the food industry and five years ago I qualified as a nutritional therapist.

It still shocks me that so many people put little value on the food they eat & then wonder why they aren’t performing to their best!! To me it’s an obvious equation… You put rubbish food in your body, you’ll get rubbish results from it!!

So when I heard that the founders of LEON (John Vincent & Henry Dimbleby) had been asked to look into the state of school meals and food culture in schools I was pleased that finally something was going to happen to change the way we feed our children and the way they view food.

The School Food Plan was published in July 2013, this isn’t just a report on the findings and research but a document to be used by people involved in education to change the way food and food education is delivered in school.

The plan brings together a wide range of experts looking at all aspects of food within the school environment along with sharing best practice where food initiatives are working well.

The shocking statistic that 20% of children are obese when they leave primary school is just wrong; to me this amounts to child cruelty!! We know that the NHS is stretch to breaking point already so how will it cope in the years to come with all these young adults/adults who may continue to need medical intervention with the health issues which are associated with obesity.

The other worrying statistic is that only 1% of lunchboxes are up to the same nutritional standards as a cooked school meal and only 47% of our children are eating these school meals so over half of our children are eating a lunchtime meal which has a low nutritional value. It is easier to get good nutrition into a cooked meal than it is into a pack lunchbox.

So what does the plan say?

  1. Reintroducing cooking lessons
  2. Increase the uptake of school meals
  3. Showcasing best practice & why are they getting it right
  4. Creative thinking to overcome challenges and problems with food culture in schools
  5. Supporting Head Teachers in creative a positive food culture in schools
  6. Support the people involved in the on the ground delivery of school meals etc
  7. Get the regulations right – this includes making them simple & easy to get right
  8. How to help small schools
  9. Addressing hunger and food poverty – breakfast clubs or children skipping meals
  10. Assessment of free school meals – currently does it go far enough?
  11. How to measure success?
  12. A check list for head teachers

As you can see this is a comprehensive list of areas that need addressing and in this plan not only have they outlined the issues but also come up with workable solutions too.

I for one will be raising my hand to offer support in making this plan a reality, together as a nation we can change the future for our children or at least equip our children with the best possible start in life.

So any parent, carer or teacher out there reading this I would urge you to spend some time reading this plan as the more people that work together the more impact it will have, or a school who would like some advice about healthy eating, then get in touch here

Click here to see the full plan.


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