Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blue Peter launches Mission Nutrition

This looks like a fantastic initiative. Blue Peter are calling on schoools to set aside some space to grow their own wheat. They are distibuting seeds and information to schools so that they can get involved. Check out the website

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shelia Mckecknie foundation announce new microsite

I had a very inspirational evening at the "Connecting Campaigners" event held by the Shelia Mckecknie Foundation. They are going to be running an alumini programme and they have just set up a one stop shop for campaigners.

I owe an enormous debt to Shelia Mckecknie foundation and I am really grateful for all the help they gave me in the early days of Merton Parents.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Todays lunch

Monday, April 27, 2009

Schools to grow food?

This article in Independent on sunday is well worth a read.

Question: How do we join all these initiatives up?

Thanks for the comment below Stephanie. I think you are right - we need to collect them all on one page. Fi Bird has commented that community involvement is also crucial because you need all year round support and schools tend to disappear at key harvest times!

The Reading experience

Here is a link to the Reading school dinners website
As I mentioned in my last blog Colin McIntosh is doing a tremendous job of improving the whole school meal experience from using undercover kids to monitor staff to regular meetings with a parent council. If you are running into a brickwall with your own school meal arrangements then I suggest you contact Colin to see how he would approach it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another action packed day with Amy

We started off at Wimbledon Park Primary School with a great tour of their kitchen and gardens. Our year 6 guides were articulate and passionate about their school.

We then headed over to Reading for lunch at Kendrick School. We met with Colin the man responsible for school meal development in Reading. He is a remarkable advocate for children's food and both Amy and I were so impressed with the stunning range of iniatiatives he has introduced. We had a great lunch - that is my vegetable korma you can see above.

Meeting up for a final dinner before Amy heads home.

Visit from "Angry Mom" Amy Kafala

Just a very qucik post about yesterday!

Amy Kafala who is the filmmaker behind "Two Angry Moms" spent the day in London descbring how she was able to create a parent movement in the USA that took on the food companies, school bureaucracies and caterers in order to improve school food.

It was a long day! We started with 2 appearances on BBC Breakfast news. There was a round table summit hosted by The School Food Trust, with representatives from 15 different UK parent groups.

Next was a hurried meeting for Amy with Jamie Olivers team who are scoping out an American show. After that we met with Prue Leith who is passionate about parent power and so was keen to pick Amy's brains.

Finally we went to Wimbledon odeon where we showed the film to an audience of parents, teenagers, some trade unionists and food campaigners. Amy then led a Q and A session.

I will post later in more detail about the themes that emerged from the dya but not now as I am about to take Amy on a whirlwind tour of some local schools.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Childrens Food Network

Working for the Children's Food Campaign, Christine and I have been developing a new social networking site for anyone who wants to see improvements in childrens food.

If you are frustrated by the reluctance of your school to get rid of prison trays, if you want advice on how to twin with a local farm or maybe you are looking for examples of governing bodies who have dramatically improved school dinners then this is the network for you!It is called the Childrens Food Network

The threat to our children's health from a poor diet has never been greater. We can't rely on marketing campaigns such as change4life and glossy health promotion leaflets to make the changes we need. There are parents, teachers, governors and campaigners up and down the country who are doing remarkable work such as setting up school gardens, introducing good cookery lesson and improving school dining rooms. We need to highlight their work so that we can show more cautious headteachers and local authorities that it can be done.

Many parents tell me that they feel isolated within their own school community and it is difficult for them to make changes on their own. Our network is intended to help them feel less isolated. Once we start signing up members we may be able to form all sorts of groups who can support each other in local areas. The possibilities are endless!

This won't work without you though! We need you to share your experiences and to help answer some of the questions raised. Please have a look and tell me what you think! The address is hhtp://

I should be on BBC Breakfast tomorrow talking about this - listen at around 7.40am or 8.40am.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's school lunch

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to School!

Tomorrow will my first day back in the classroom since Easter. Watch this space for the new school dinner pictures.

Have been really busy today sorting out arrangements for the film screening on Thursday. We have a really interesting mix of people coming along - lots of school governors, few headteachers, some trade unions, Jamie Oliver's team, some journalists, few teenagers and of course - parents! There are a few names I recognise from the original meeting we had when we fist set up Merton Parents in 2005.

If you still haven't booked your tickets yet email

We are hoping to get people who come along to sign up to the Children's Food Network - a social networking site that will link up parents, campaigners, teachers - basically everyone who wants to be involved in improving children's food. The point of the network is to share some of the good things that are going on and to help those who are isolated and frustrated. Still got some work to do on it but hope to post up a link to it soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Does eating junk food really make kids happy?

This article looks at the relationship between childrens happiness and their consumption of soft drinks and junk food. Some disturbing findings.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Impact of fast food outlets near schools.

According to Columbia University a fast food restuarant within 500 metres of a school can lead to a 5% increase in obesity rates at that school. Have a look at the full report

Tooth decay.

Have a look at this article in the Times about children's diet and tooth decay

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interesting report from school caterers who are meeting nutrient standards

Esher Church of England High School dinners sound great. Click here to see how they are serving good quality food that meets nutrient standards and increasing the number of dinner sold. LACA take note!

Here is a quote from "Angry Mom" Amy Kafala

My 22-year-old daughter told me yesterday that all the things that embarrassed her about growing up in our family (the metal water bottles, the woven shopping baskets, the roosters crowing, etc) are now "cool" among her generation. I'm happy to ride the "trend" of sustainability. What I hope we can begin to accomplish globally is to establish an understanding of the value of teaching our kids how to grow, prepare and eat real, whole food not only because it's cool but because their survival, and the survival of our planet depends on this knowledge.

You can hear Amy Kafala talking about her experiences on Thursday 23 April at Wimbledon Odeon. Email Paula to book free tickets

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Any teachers/parents looking for a school packed lunch policy?

It looks like Leeds have done a lot of good work putting together a school packed lunch policy. Why not take a look and maybe suggest your school think about using it. After all - no point re inventing the wheel!Click here

Rosemary Molinari makes the point that it is easier for headteachers to implement a policy that has been devised by experts rather than have to devise one on their own.

Monday, April 6, 2009

If only we could persuade teachers to eat with the children.

I know, I know, teachers deserve a lunch break away from the children they have been teaching all morning but just hear me out. What if we considered the lunch part of the break part of the school day?

  • Children would have no motivation to just stuff their lunch down in a bid to get extra play since they would be eating in lesson time
  • If all the adults in school ate with the kids they could model good table manners and maybe even teach young children to use knife and fork correctly
  • if adults were eating the same food then that would act as an effective monitoring of the school food
  • parents would feel reassured that there children were actually eating.
I know that this presupposes that schools have decent dining rooms that teachers could fit into and also that teachers would want to eat school food. But if you think about this could be a great way to civilise lunch times. Is n't this what happens in private schools? Mind you, the school food standards don't apply to them so maybe I shouldn't go down that particular route!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

School Food Matters

Stephanie from School Food Matters in Richmond is doing a great job keeping the spotlight on school food. Click here to see some pictures of school food in her borough.

Stephanie makes the point that food served in schools sometimes varies from published menus. This is a big problem and will make it difficult to assess whether or not schools are meeting nutrient standards. Come on Sodexho - either stick to menus or give a clear explanation about why you are making menu substitutions and how you are going to ensure menus are balanced. Schools also have a part to play in checking that the children get the right food each day

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just spotted this.

You can read an account of Laca summit that included comment from me in caterer and hotelkeeper