Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Looks like Jamie is back on the case!

Below is a press release from The Press Association

Oliver to fight school dinner cuts

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver met with the Government on Wednesday to challenge planned cuts to school dinners, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The TV cook arranged to meet Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to discuss the Government's decision to end the School Lunch Grant, introduced in 2008 after Mr Oliver's campaign for better school meals.

The £240 million ring-fenced provision was aimed at raising the quality of low-cost, healthy school meals for pupils from middle-income families.

But from March 2011 it will be absorbed into the main schools budget, leaving head teachers to decide how the money should be spent.

Without a ring-fenced fund, they will have to balance demands for new books, stationery and sports equipment against healthy lunches.

The Department of Health confirmed that Mr Oliver met with Mr Lansley earlier but would not provide details of the private meeting.

Their discussion followed talks at the Department of Health on Monday attended by Mr Oliver and health professionals including GPs and child obesity experts.

The experts warned Mr Lansley that revoking the School Lunch Grant would be detrimental to pupils' health, behaviour and academic performance.

The fund is planned to come to an end just months after it was announced that the School Food Trust, also set up after Mr Oliver's campaign against unhealthy school meals, will lose its Government funding. Its status is being changed so that it will no longer be funded by the Department for Education, instead continuing as an independent charity from April 2011.

Sandra Russell, chair of the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA), which represents 100,000 school canteen staff, said she was "very grateful" for Mr Oliver's continued campaigning for the grant.

Copyright © 2010 The Press Association. All rights reserved.