Blair backs Oliver on school meals - but not with cash

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Tony Blair has bowed to the campaign, led by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to replace junk food with healthy school dinners.

Tony Blair has bowed to the campaign, led by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to replace junk food with healthy school dinners.

The Prime Minister promised to set up an independent School Food Trust to build on the work in Oliver's Channel 4 series, Jamie's School Dinners, which put fatty foods lacking in nutrition under the microscope.

In the programme, Oliver criticised the amount spent on school meals ­ 37p in the schools that he worked in, and 35 to 45p in local authorities across the country. A petition to improve the quality of food has been signed by 130,000 people.

In a nod to the anger felt among parents over the issue, Mr Blair, writing in The Observer, said the Government was drawing up plans to rebuild school kitchens and give "dinner ladies" extra training to help them cook healthier meals.

But as the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, prepares to announce details of the plan today, it appeared that no extra funding would be allocated to provide better-balanced meals.

Asked on ITV News how much would be spent, Ms Kelly said she would be seeking to generate pressure from parents and children to push for healthier school meals. She added: "Then it's a question for schools and for local authorities to allocate more money to make sure that that happens."

Jamie Oliver said he would be scrutinising the detail but his spokesman said his demand for 50p to 75p for meals per child per day was "non-negotiable".

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