19th Dec 2011 - 00:00
The School Food Trust is to ask all academy schools to state their commitment to providing healthy food for children on its website.
The charity is writing to all academies in the New Year asking them to confirm their commitment to meeting the national standards for healthy school meals, and will publish a list of all academies committing to meet the standards on its pages for parents and schools at www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk. Currently, academy schools are not required to follow legislation which ensures that food provided in schools is nutritionally-balanced. The Trust's letter is part of its research to make sure the Department for Education has an accurate picture of how the policy may impact the food being offered to children. In her letter, chief executive, Judy Hargadon said: "You may be aware of recent questions raised by Jamie Oliver and other campaigners about the commitment of academies to the National School Food Standards. "Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has said that "we have no reason to believe that academies will not provide healthy, balanced meals that meet the current nutritional standards", but at the moment there isn't a clear picture across the board. "Having worked with many academies over the years and as the Government's specialist advisor on school food issues, we're seeking to clarify the current situation. I am writing to ask you share your position, confirming whether or not your academy is committed to following the national standards for food in schools as set out at www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/the-standards. "We will be publishing a list of all the academies who have stated their commitment to the standards as a resource for parents and other interested parties. Your responses will also form part of the evidence base from which we will advise the government on this issue." Research shows that the national school food standards, which were phased into operation for all maintained schools from 2006, have already made a huge difference to the food that children are being offered at primary school: â€¢ Primary school children are eating more portions of fruit and vegetables as part of their meal â€¢ Children have an average of two portions of their '5-a-day' as part of their school lunch â€¢ The average primary school meal is lower in fat, sugar and salt than it was in 2005 â€¢ Caterers are providing healthier lunches with more vegetables, salad and fruit; fewer chips and other starchy foods cooked in fat; and no crisps or sweets â€¢ The average sodium content of a primary school lunch has reduced by almost one third since 2005