Friday, July 10, 2009

School Food uptake

Figures released yesterday show a small rise in school dinner uptake. There is a bit of argy bargy over the figures - anyone involved in school administration will know that it has been really complicated how you report school meal figures - the caterers seem to have one method and the local authorities another. Last year the School Food Trust attempted to standardise the process by changing the way the figures are reported so that has led to different sets of data being compared.

For me that is a secondary issue. The key point is that the school meal service has not collapsed with the removal of junk food and the arrival of standards but uptake is not rising fast enough to meet the government targets.

Children aren't stupid - if the food is poor quality, poor value for money and served in substandard surroundings then they will not eat it.

Some schools understand this and work hard to ensure there school provides decent food in pleasant surroundings. There are examples of schools being very creative to overcome problems like small dining rooms - eg amending timetables, creating outdoor seating areas.

And yes I know how difficult it is for Heads with huge workloads and pressure of targets. But this matters - the lunchtime is part of the school day and in the same way heads wouldn't accept substandard lessons they shouldn't accept substandard meal provision.

If children are hungry they will not be able to learn. School meal uptake will only rise when schools get their act together and address the problems in their dining rooms.