Jamie Oliver urges more investment in school meals

TV chef Jamie Oliver today called on the Government to invest in school meals, as figures showed more pupils were eating them.

More than four in ten (41.4%) primary age children are now eating school lunches, up from 39.3% last year, according to statistics published by the School Food Trust (SFT) and the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA).



There has also been a minimal rise in secondary schools, where 35.8% of children are now eating school meals, up from 35% in 2008/09.



Oliver said he was "massively encouraged" by the new figures, which he said showed the hard work of dinner ladies, teachers, parents and the School Food Trust, "even with stretched resources".



It was important that the figure kept rising, Oliver said.



"Some people in government might look at the figures and think that it's now time to take the foot off the gas because it's a success story," he said.



"That would be completely wrong. Now is the time to move up a gear. This is the time for both education and health departments to invest in those schools who still have problems with lack of training for dinner ladies or who suffer from having a dining area that's too small or uninviting.



"Now is the time to ensure that life skills education, including teaching kids how to grow food and cook it from fresh, is compulsory for all primary and secondary school kids.



"Investment now saves lives and NHS billions in the future. We're on the right track with school meals. We can't allow anything to slow this down.



"When I started working on school food, I always said it would be a 10 to 13-year plan and we're only a third of the way through. You don't change decades of neglect in a handful of years but we need governments to think long term and not just to the next election."



An extra 320,980 pupils in England are eating school dinners, the figures show, the biggest year-on-year increase since the school meals revolution began.



It was kick-started by Oliver who ran a campaign five years ago for better quality school dinners.



After Oliver's campaign won huge public support, the Government banned junk food from school canteens and vending machines and in 2006 new rules to make food healthier were introduced in English schools.



Strict nutritional guidelines were made compulsory in primary schools in 2008, and the same was introduced in secondaries last September.



Today's survey is based on information provided by 152 local authorities across England.



The findings show that school dinners cost an average of £1.83 in primary schools and £1.94 in secondaries - a 3% increase on 2008-09.



SFT chairman Rob Rees said: "The number of children eating school meals had been on a downward spiral for many years when Jamie Oliver brought the issue into the nation's living room, leading to even more children and parents turning their backs on canteens.



"Now, following the introduction of national standards for meals and the hard work to improve the dining room experience for children, this is being reversed - disproving the myth that children simply don't want to eat healthy food.



"However, the number of children eating school meals is still in the minority so the School Food Trust, schools, caterers, local authorities and cooks still have a huge amount to do before we can say the school meals revolution is complete."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power