Friday, September 24, 2010

School Food Trust to be axed?

By now I am sure many of you have seen the leaked doc in the Telegraph suggesting that the School Food Trust is to be axed. Well actually it is not as simple as that as the trust is a charity so the government have no power to "axe" it.

In my own opinion as a parent, teacher and founder of Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools is that we need the School Food Trust because the job is not yet done. Six years ago before the trust was set up children were routinely served sub standard food,- cheap poor quality ingredients, high in fat, salt and sugar with little, if any, fresh fruit and veg. As parents in Merton we despaired because schools seemed helpless to combat it, the caterers were opposed to improvements and no one within either local or national government cared. This pushed us into action and we got hundreds of parents in Merton to complain and collect evidence. As you will know we won spectacular improvements which has lead to thousands of children and staff in merton eating good tasty, healthy school meals. However this is not the case everywhere and even where schools now want to make improvements they need help. This is where the School Food Trust comes in. They have fantastic resources for school staff, caterers, parents, students - or anyone who wants to see improvements.

If you look back at the recent history of school dinners you will see savage cuts, ripping out of kitchens and dining rooms, nutritional standards abolished, experienced cooks sacked and fresh food replaced with ready made junk. The School Food Trust have inherited a mountain of huge problems and they have made an impressive start. Given the scale of problems facing the school meal service it is hardly surprising that the Trust need longer to make radical improvements.

The staff are passionate,talented, hardworking and quite inspirational. Many of them could command much higher salaries working for industry. Axing the School Food Trust would be a big mistake and an ideological response - not an economic decision.

NB - these opinions are entirely my own. Anyone looking for a School Food Trust response please go to their website.

UPDATE Below is School Food Trust response: Responding to today’s story in the Daily Telegraph and the BBC, School Food Trust Chair Rob Rees said:

Like all Non Departmental Public Bodies we are waiting on the outcome of the Government’s review of arms length bodies to decide on whether the school food remains an NDPB. We can't comment on speculation or leaks.

Regardless of the outcome of the Arms Lenghts Bodies review the School Food Trust remains committed to this incredibly important agenda not least because of the huge economic, health and social costs of child obesity

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Teachers eating school dinners with kids!

This is a giant leap forward! If school dinners are good enough for teachers to eat it generally means they are good enough for kids. It is massively reassuring to us parents and it is a kind of insurance policy against a fall in standards.

I appreciate teachers need a break from kids but thank you to all those of you teachers who choose to sit and eat with kids!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Have you signed the petition to save school meals?

There has been a tremendous improvement in school food since 2005. We have made enormous strides but we are still not there yet. That is why I am supporting the petition by the Soil Association, Children's Food Campaign and Merton parents to encourage the government to continue the good work.

Please sign it now and send the link to all your friends and family.

Sign the petition to defend school food