Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Andrew Lansley's speech to BMA

I am bewildered, perplexed and dismayed by our health secretary's speech today to the BMA. He appears to have totally misunderstood the Jamie Oliver campaign to improve school food.

Jamie did the nation a huge service by revealing the atrocious state of school dinners. Abolishing nutritional standards, insisting on using lowest cost providers, ripping out proper kitchens in favour of re gen ovens led to truly terrible school food.

Jamie's campaign led to an increase in funding and the establishment of the School Food Trust. They in turn have done a magnificent job in establishing minimum nutritional standards for the food and have helped schools overcome many of the problems caused by under investment.

It has not been easy, but we have gradually begun to turn the corner. Primary school meals have increased and where secondary schools have been able to improve their dining rooms and keep prices low their numbers have also risen.

What Lansley doesn't understand is that the change is school food was never about "nagging" kids to improve their eating habits. It was always about providing good quality tasty nutritious food to show them that the tasty option was also the healthy option. Sadly the high cost of some school meals, the terrible queuing, the lack of time to eat them mean that school meal uptake hasn't increased as dramatically as I would like. The answer is though to overcome those obstacles - not to get a cheap headline criticising jamie Oliver.