Jamie Oliver to meet with Education Secretary over school food plans | School meals

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and campaigners aiming to improve the quality of school meals are due to meet Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi after Oliver joined leaders from hundreds of schools urging the government to tackle the increase in childhood obesity since the Covid pandemic.

Oliver’s charity Bite Back 2030, together with headteachers and academy leaders, wrote to Zahawi to lobby for changes to the government’s planned food strategy and to ask schools in England to publish annual nutrition reports showing the progress they have made in meeting health standards. and nutrition.

Oliver – who helped spark a national debate over unhealthy school meals when he revealed the spread of Turkey Twizzlers as part of the 2005 TV series Jamie’s School Dinners – said the quality of the food was not unreliable in too many schools and needed further improvement.

“Whether your child gets good food at school is currently a postcode lottery. This is why I support a growing army of teachers, young people and charities who are all calling on Nadhim Zahawi to establish a policy that every school publishes its annual plan so that every child receives healthy and nutritious food at school, no matter where he lives,” said Olivier.

The letter prompted a quick response from Zahawi after Oliver tweeted about the issue Wednesday, with the Education Secretary thanking him “for raising this important issue” and offering to arrange a meeting.

The letter was backed by leaders representing many of England’s largest multi-academy trusts – including Ark, Star Academies and Ormiston Academies Trust – totaling more than 600 individual schools.

“We know that a major driver of the poor Covid-19 outcomes in the UK has been our spiraling obesity rates,” the letter to Zahawi states.

“The causes of childhood obesity and health inequities are of course complex, but we believe – as school leaders – that with young people in school 190 days a year, schools need to be supported to do everything in their power to prepare the ground for food health This means that the government is seizing the opportunity – as it formulates its upgrading strategy and its food strategy – to rethink, revise and reform the functioning of the school food system in England.

The letter follows a recent report compiled by Bite Back This highlighted the starkly different experiences of the food offered in secondary schools, with students receiving free school meals saying they had less choice.

One student said, “There are no healthy options, to be fair. My school used to make salad bowls and fruit bowls, but they’ve stopped that now and it’s literally just junk food.

Critics say one of the reasons for the decline in food quality and choice is the failure of the Department of Education to increase payments for school food, including the free infant school meals available for all children in the first years of primary school. The government pays just £2.34 for food for each child a day, a rate that has barely changed since 2011.

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