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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee