Unbelievable! So Gove is absolutely happy to insist that the new academies and free schools he is hell bent on setting up will be forced to teach about the sanctity of marriage but completely free to serve poor quality food that doesn't meet minimum nutritional standards. Have a look at the story in todays Telegraph
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Posted by Jackie at 7:32 PM
Friday, December 2, 2011
Below is the letter I had published in the Guardian:
Posted by Jackie at 11:03 AM
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I am writing to you all to ask you to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jamie Oliver.
Refusing to insist that nutritional standards apply to ALL schools is a major threat to the school food improvements we have seen since 2005.
I urge you to write a joint letter to Gove calling on him to apply nutritional standards to ALL schools. If he refuses then start a mass campaign. You will get huge public support with medical organizations, health charities, teachers unions and parents lining up to support you.
Regardless of how tough things are for your organizations at the moment I believe the future of the school meal service depends on this one decision and a failure to stand up to Gove now will have dire consequences on the meals our children will be eating.
If you don’t win this then much of the excellent work you have done in the past will be for nothing.
Posted by Jackie at 2:07 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Posted by Jackie at 7:32 PM
Friday, September 9, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Well my time as part of "the great and the good" has come to an end. I am no longer a board member or trustee of the School Food Trust. This government has shown no love toward school dinners and was keen to loose many of the quangos that were associated with the last labour government. The only way for the School Food Trust to survive was to become a community interest company that could bring in funding to replace the government funding. it became clear I have nothing to contribute in this shiny bright new future. I am at heart a campaigner not a salesperson. This has been a very difficult transformation for the Trust. Many talented and committed staff are amongst the casualties.
Posted by Jackie at 5:31 PM
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Posted by Jackie at 10:53 PM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Posted by Jackie at 11:56 AM
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I thought it was worth remembering what we used to serve up as school dinner to our kids pre 2005. We have come such a long way since then. Just scroll back through my posts to see pictures of what the kids are eating now. I am looking to feature school food pictures from schools outside of Merton. Please send me a pic of your school dinners at your school! leave me a comment and I will be in touch.
Posted by Jackie at 11:19 AM
I was delighted to read this morning that The Chief Executive of The School Food Trust, Judy Hargadon has been given an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
I have known Judy personally for the last 6 years since Merton Parents for Better Food in School began to have an impact on getting schools to improve. I personally had a deep suspicion of most civil servants and was very concerned that the majority failed to have a clue about the children's perspective. Judy however understood that we were failing to see the situation from the child's viewpoint.
She is a great strategic thinker and has given the School Food Trust a clear lead. I think she was absolutely right to start by developing school food standards so that we would have a clear regulatory framework which would protect children from being served nutritionally poor food. This was not universally popular and didn't win her many friends but she stuck to her guns.
I was particulary drawn to Judy because of her passion and zeal. For her it was more than a job and she spent many, many hours - way beyond the call of duty ensuring the detail was right. Her attention to detail is phenomenal and has made the SFT what it is today. She has of course been greatly aided by Prue Leith and Rob Rees who also deserve recognition for their roles in improving school food.
Judy has steered the Trust through the culling of the quangos and is busy developing a new way of working.
I personally have grave concerns about this governments commitment to school meals and am ready to go back to campaigning to ensure that our poorest and most vulnerable children are protected.We have won some battles but not the war. Most secondary schools in this country fail to put the nutritional needs of their students before their administrative problems. We are still failing to provide good quality tasty food cheaply and to serve it in a civilised and pleasant environment. Whilst we face appalling rates of rising childhood obesity twinned with rising poverty levels we are creating huge problems for the NHS (and yes, I know Head teachers face huge difficulties but many of them avoid doing anything)
However I am glad Judy will be at the helm of the school food trust continuing to put the needs of the children first and I am delighted that her hard work has been recognised.
Posted by Jackie at 10:03 AM
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
School dinners is a bit of a niche subject. Health people tend to think of it is an education issue and education folks tend to pigeon hole it as a health issue. It is because it falls between the two that there is a serious danger that it will be overlooked. And we know what happened in the past when it was overlooked.
That's why I think it is really important that we persuade the House of Commons to set up a parliamentary group with MPs from all parties to make sure our school children get the lunches they deserve. Sharon Hodgeson MP already convenes a meeting for everyone interested in school food. We now need some coalition MPs to step up.
Posted by Jackie at 6:17 PM
Monday, May 30, 2011
Zac Goldsmith MP has set up an early day motion in the House of Commons to persuade the government to keep cooking lessons in secondary schools. Please can you send a quick message to your MP asking them to support this motion. it is really easy as Children's Food Campaign have already done the hard work! Just click on the link below and enter your postcode. It will send an automatic message from you and if your MP is already supporting it will send them a thank you.
Please spare 2 mins to help!
Keep kids cooking in school action
Posted by Jackie at 5:58 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Look what those talented, creative and generous staff at Sustain have made me for my last day at Children's Food Campaign - my very own army of campaigners. I am feeling very emotional and overwhelmed by their kindness and support so will keep this brief. I will be back soon to post more about why you should support these incredible people.
Posted by Jackie at 5:23 PM
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Many happy returns to our school cook Sally. She does a fantastic job in the kitchen and has a wonderful manner with the children. She is hugely popular with both staff and children alike. Sally works incredibly hard so I think it is time we gave her a big thank you!
Posted by Jackie at 8:42 PM
Monday, May 23, 2011
The wonderful people at Capital Growth teamed up with B&Q to give away 100,000 tomato plants to Londoners in an attempt to get people food growing. It was extremely popular and streams of workers flooded out of offices to get involved.
Posted by Jackie at 11:09 PM
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I had the opportunity to attend a seminar arranged by The National Heart Forum to hear the law professor Stephen Sugarman explain his approach to reducing diet related deaths in the UK. Put very simply he is called for performance based regulations that sees industry take responsibility for making the changes.
Rather than focusing on individuals to make different choices which are hard to keep up in the face of constant marketing and availability Sugarman suggests legislation which requires retailers and fast food/chain restaurants to reduce the amount of high fat, salt sugar products that they sell, based on industry averages so forward thinking companies don't get penalised.
There would be heavy fines which would give companies a genuine urge to unleash their creativity on how they could reformulate and move into healthier markets with rewards given for successes. Can you imagine what supermarkets and fast food restaurants would look like if they were actually really trying their hardest to shift more furit and veg? We certainly see a lot more appetising fruit displays by the checkouts thats for sure!
Sugarman thinks the fact that there is so few companies who provide the majority of our food would make it much easier to achieve. In addition the barcode technology we have would make this easy to monitor.
He went on to suggest the food industry will absolutely hate the idea and will scream blue murder and rush out more and more voluntary guidelines in an attempt to avoid this. However he promises he is happy to walk away from litigation and lawsuits in return.
What I like about his ideas is that we wouldn't need to micro manage it. If companies had a clear financial incentive to reduce HFSS foods sold year on year they would find innovate and creative ways to do it.
Unfortunately though persuading the government to do it is another matter. This current mob are already jumping to the demands of the food industry. if we do ever get a government that puts the health needs of the population before the profits of a the industry we have some great ideas to discuss. You can have a look at Prof Sugarmans ideas here.
Posted by Jackie at 8:05 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
...Mr Gove has cancelled the very successful "Licence to Cook" project that would have seen every high school student recieve 24 hours of basic food prep and cooking lessons during their key stage 3 years. Schools have spent the last 4 years preparing for these cooking lessons with government money already spent on equipping classrooms and training teachers. This project has been quietly dropped with virtually no media coverage. Many cookery teachers have already lost their jobs.
For years health professionals have argued that unless we halt the decline of cooking skills then many people will feel unable to choose healthier freshly prepared food as they simple lack the skills.
The Children's Food Campaign has led a passionate campaign to keep our kids cooking. If you support it then please sign up to their email list
Posted by Jackie at 9:44 AM
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
This is what primary school children in Merton were offered today for lunch.Tasty. My biggest concerns now is how we ensure the lowest paid can still afford them. There is going to be a radical reform of benefits and Children's Food Campaign along with a number of charities are fighting hard to ensure that the poorest in our society still get access to good quality, free school dinners. We are particularly concerned about low paid workers who despite working long hours still fall under the poverty line yet can't afford to buy school meals especially if they have more than one child.
Posted by Jackie at 5:42 PM
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I have just been to see a brilliant film created by the Co op British Youth Film Academy about school dinners in a retelling of the classic Sweeny Todd story. I would highly recommend it. The picture above features 2 of the young actors. It was directed by Todd Carty and starred Richard Brimblecombe and Pauline Quirke
Posted by Jackie at 8:23 PM
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I wandered into the dining hall last week and was really impressed with the friendly and warm manner of the catering staff.They spoke personally to each child, encouraging some to take the salad, and discussing menus with others. No whistle blowing or shouting! The biggest problem was the acoustics of the hall which meant noise levels were high but not unbearable.
I had the chilli, but lots of the kids chose the veggie pizza which had been frshly made that morning from scratch. Every child I saw had salad and or sweetcorn. The grapes were a popular choice for pudding.
Posted by Jackie at 8:57 AM
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I occasionally get asked to speak about Merton Parents for Better food as a case study in campaigning. I'm off to speak to a group at refugee Action on Thursday so thought I would put up the presentation.
NB. I always make the following points -
1. Our campaign was a popular one and as such we had no hostility from media and no fear of attack. Many other campaigners are not so fortunate and I respect their bravery and commitment.
2. The success of Merton Parents in improving was due to all the people who took action - not just the ones who speak out all the time!Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
Posted by Jackie at 10:46 PM
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I spent a great day at Haydonleigh Primary School visiting the Let's Get cooking Club with Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson. The children worked with parents to prepare a carrot and coriander soup and an apple crumble.
Justin is a passionate supporter of cooking in schools and was keen to find out about Let's get Cooking clubs work. We finished off our visit with a school dinner.
Posted by Jackie at 11:07 PM
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The barbecued chicken was a new recipe that our cook Sally tried out for the first time today. It was very popular with the children. We have now switched to home made coleslaw which tastes great. I am having a school lunch on Thursday in Swindon with the local Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson as we are going to visit a Let's Get Cooking Club.
Posted by Jackie at 5:43 PM
Sunday, March 13, 2011
We got a Children's Food Campaign comment in today's Observer
Unbelievable that this government really expect junk food companies to give a lead on a policy aimed at reducing the consumption of the high fat/salt/sugar products said companies need to sell more of for their bottom line.
Off to meet Defra tomorrow with some Myles and Colette from Garden Organic. We are exploring exciting plans to set up a task force to get all schools food growing. Will report back!
Posted by Jackie at 5:51 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Here is a link to a piece I wrote for The Children's Food Campaign for The Telegraph
Not expecting a positive response!
Posted by Jackie at 1:37 PM
Here is a great project for UK schools to help us teach children where there food comes from. The inspirational Chris Young,(featured recently in the Observer and on BBC 2's The Great British Food Revival)has come up with a great way to learn about breadmaking. If you have access to 1 square metre of ground and a handful of earth you can take part.
If you are a teacher you can get free seeds and download a guide which will take you through the whole process by clicking here Get you skates on. You need to be planting your seeds by April.
Real bread starts in a field, not a factory!
Posted by Jackie at 11:45 AM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I spent today at Wimbledon Park work shadowing the exceptionally talented music AST teacher. As part of my mission to protect school dinners I make it a principle to eat a school dinner at every school I visit so am delighted to report that the food at Wimbledon Park is excellent!
Posted by Jackie at 7:45 PM
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Just read this blogpost from the teacher I mentioned yesterday. Well worth a read. Jenni describes the impact that cooking lessons have had on both her and the students
Here are some pics of this weeks school dinners
Posted by Jackie at 5:47 PM
Monday, March 7, 2011
We have some amazing teachers in our secondary schools doing a wonderful job in challenging circumstances. I came across this video by chance on twitter through discussion with @jennitonic80 about the possibility of losing cooking from the curiculum. Jenni created it to inspire her students. But you can rest assured they don't just passively watch because she provides opportunities for them to learn by actually cooking. However this is all threatened. If we don't get Michael Gove to change his plans then our youth may lose the chance to learn how to prepare fresh food for themselves.
Please click here to send Gove a message now
And thank you to all the cooking teachers up and down the country who are doing a great job to redress the massive influence of the food industry by teaching our children basic cooking skills
Posted by Jackie at 9:05 PM
Friday, March 4, 2011
I thought I would carry about a bit of ad hoc research and get some feedback on today's school dinners. I was a bit surprised how quickly the children focused on the healthiness of the meals. I think it is because the children are eager to please and think that adults are only interested in school food with regard to healthy eating.
Food for thought.
Posted by Jackie at 4:24 PM
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Well worth a watch. School food is a global issue and diet related health problems are hitting the poorest and most vulnerable citizens the world over. What a difference decent school food programmes could make if we cared enough to act.
Posted by Jackie at 10:19 PM
Our Life North West have been doing something fantastic detailed work with all sorts of communities that are more likely to suffer from poor health. One of the barriers to good health identified by several of their focus groups is lack of cooking skills. If you are not able to prepare fresh food then you are more likely to rely on processed ready meals or take-aways which are generally more unhealthy and less nutritious than freshly prepared food.
Hardly rocket science. You would think that at a society committed to improving the health of the nation would ensure that ALL kids would get basic cooking lessons to ensure they had the skills to prepare a healthy diet.
After years of campaigning we eventually won a commitment from the government to ensure that all year 9 students would receive 24 hours of practical, hands on cookery which focused on preparing family meals. Schools were given three years to prepare and money to spend on equipping classrooms and training teachers.(Incidentally these lessons will be focusing on real cooking skills not the 'design a pizza box' type lesson so beloved of the food industry)
Mr Gove,the current Secretary of State for Education has other ideas. He is keen to slim down the national curriculum and reduce the element of compulsion for schools. if he gets his way then cookery will no longer be compulsory. Secondary schools are going to be under the most tremendous pressure to improve their Ebacc ratings so many will claw back the time that would be spent on cookery lessons to spend time on subjects that improve their league table ratings.
It is vital that we keep compulsory cookery lessons. Please take 2 minutes to send a message to the government now to ensure that our voice is heard. Click here to take part in the consultation exercise that is currently going on about the school curriculum.
If we can generate a huge response to this then we stand a chance of winning.
We need the health professionals who are currently looking at obesity reduction strategies to put pressure on education to retain cooking lessons. How joined up is it too have Department of Health looking at behaviour change strategies to reduce obesity at exactly the same time that the Department of Education wants to ditch responsibility for life skills?
Can you help us spread this campaign? All suggestions gratefully received!
Posted by Jackie at 9:12 PM
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This is the vegetarian option served in school yesterday(15th Feb 2011) It is a spinach and butterbean pie which was really delicious. We have come along way from the endless cheese and pasta offerings of the past.
Is that the case up and down the country? Be interested in hearing your experiences of vegetarian school meals.
Posted by Jackie at 1:08 PM
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I am deeply worried that Derby Council seems to be pressing ahead with an unpopular scheme to stop schools for freshly cooking school lunch on site in favour of a "reheat" solution. The council are encouraging schools to visit this potential supplier in Coventry. Headteachers don't seem to be in any hurray to take up this offer. According to a local newspaper only 18 out of a potential 78 schools have expressed any interest in taking up this option.
Local Head, Ian Bell has said "We want to be able to cook and control the meals for our children" Very well said. It is great to see Heads putting the needs of the children first. I can not believe anyone seriously believes reheated food is better than freshly prepared.
You can read more about this in The Derby Telegraph
Posted by Jackie at 10:21 PM
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
I am so impressed with the parents forum in Pimlico. They held a great meeting to discuss free school meals. They got speakers from Islington and Westminster council to explain about their free school meal policies and a councillor from Westminster came along to explain why they weren't able to do it.
The parents made a short video explaining what free school meals would mean to them. It is very powerful viewing. One of the parents also made a terrific speech which I have copied below.
All of the women involved are new to campaigning but have done a really brilliant job. If you want to leave a message of support or have a question for them please leave a comment below and I will ensure that they get it.
We all know why we are here today, so I thought I would get straight to the point.
It doesn’t sound a lot. Some of you may spend that on your own lunch in one day…
But to some of us, it makes a big difference. Many families that I know have two, or three or even four children in full time school. That is £35 per week. That’s the difference between getting a new school uniform, or not getting one. Getting a new winter coat. Or not always having to say “not this week”…!
We want the best for our kids. At the moment, there is a problem in Westminster with a rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes. There are health programmes out there tackling this. We know from the other trials around the country that having a healthy, hot meal at lunch time directly impacts on children’s concentration levels. They are calmer in the classrooms. Not only does it improve their health but it impacts on their achievements in school. We know lunchboxes are a poor second best. Only 1% of lunch boxes in the UK meet the high nutritional standards of school meals.
So as parents we really want our kids to be able to have the very high quality school dinners that are offered in Westminster’s schools. But many of us have to choose between this cost, and other equally important things for our families.
We all know it has been very cold over the last few months. We all had to put some extra heating on. But what if you just can’t afford to put the extra heat on, because you don’t have any more money to put on the key?
How do you explain to your kids not to put the heater on, when they get up and they’re cold? To hear them say “don’t do that, or we’ll be sitting in the cold and the dark!
Why is it right that when you go back to work after being on income support, you loose this help, just because you are getting – in a lot of cases – only a few extra pounds income?
Even with schemes where you can claim some clothing allowance, childcare for the first six months and so on… eventually this also stops, and this support is taken away leaving you still on a low income. With all these challenges on families’ income, we think it is simply unfair that those kids loose out. Would it not make sense to just give all kids a free hot meal?
In Southwark they are, and in Islington. So why can’t we?!
Posted by Jackie at 4:25 PM
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I had a great meeting yesterday with the parents and carer forum in South Westminster. They are a diverse group of parents who are passionate about the importance of good school meals. Despite there being some very wealthy areas in Westminster these parents are concerned about the large numbers of low income families who simply cannot afford school meals regularly for their children.
They are holding a public meeting on Thursday 20th Jan 10am - 12.30 at Churchill Gardens Residents' Hall. Everyone who has an interest in school food is welcome to attend. Simply email freeschoolmealsinWestminster@gmail.com to register
It was really refreshing to meet a group of mums who don't want to take no for an answer!
Posted by Jackie at 5:44 PM