9th to the 13 November is National School Meals Week. The Local Authority of Caterers Association is being supported by the School Food Trust to raise awareness of school meals. Local authorities or individual schools can sign up by registering here.
If we can increase the number of children eating school meals there will be a huge number of benefits -
Health - growing children need good quality food. Children eating school dinners generally consume more fruit and veg at lunch than children bringing packed lunches.
Education - children who have eaten a balanced lunch are better prepared for afternoon lessons than those who are either still hungry or who have indulged in a sugar fest. You can see the evidence here
The local community - where there are high numbers of children eating a school lunch then it is possible to train and employ local people to cook.
The purse -If we could make school dinners the norm then that would greatly increase the purchasing power of the caterers and economies of scale would bring down the individual cost of the meals.
Please don't think that this is an attack on parents who provide packed lunches. I know there are lots of families who provide lovely balanced lunches for their children that meet the nutrient standards. However there are some dire packed lunches consumed by kids on a daily basis that contain no fruit or veg and alarmingly high levels of fat, salt and sugar. Yes we can lecture those parents endlessly and repeat the change 4life mantras endlessly but if we can provide low cost, tasty healthy alternative that will be more effective in changing eating habits than clever slogans.
Ask your school to sign up for Natonal School Meals Week now. heads and governors have a lot on their plate at this time of year so it is possible NSMW has'nt made it across their desks yet. Requests from parents to take part are likely to be favourably recieved. There is no cost to the school and there are plenty of educational materials on the site that they will be able to use. I am planning to visit local primary schools in Merton to give an assembly on the history of school meals in the UK and what school dinners are like in other countries around the world to do my bit!
Events like this are our defense against the dark old pre jamie days when Merton school children suffered the most appalling sub standard slop.
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