Monday, September 21, 2009

Savage cuts?

Discussions about cutting public spending strike me as very worrying. We need to keep our nerve here. It is foolish and short sighted to try and claw back money at the expense of our children. The children are not responsible for the appalling crisis that bankers created. Why are we expecting the poorest and most vulnerable to suffer the cuts?

Not only is it immoral but it is ridiculously short sighted. Let's just think back to how the current crisis in school food actually began. It was a short sighted decision by a Conservative government who spotted an opportunity to deregulate school meals to save a few quid what a miscalculation that has proved to be!

The 1980 Education Act abolished minimum nutritional standards for the meals and ended the obligation for local authorities to provide meals. This meant schools could seve up burger and chips without a hint of fruit and veg with impunity. This act coupled with the introduction of Commercial Competitive Tendering meant that authorities had to choose the cheapest of the cheap burgers on offer. This was followed by the 1986 Social Security Act which meant thousands of children lost their entitlement to free school meals.

How much have these cuts actually cost? Generations of children who ate a nutritionally poor diet have health consequences. Armies of cooks made redundant and unable to pass on their skills to the next generation.

The money the state spends on school food is a drop in the ocean compared to other areas of state spending, (£20 billion to replace Trident springs to mind) and if it means children increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables then the savings to health will be worth it.

There is an excellent article on the history of school dinners on Derek Gillard's website.