The Deputy Prime Minster is kicking off a week of celebrations to highlight just how far school meals have come since the days of lukewarm liver and bacon and lumpy banana custard.
As part of National School Meals Week (3 to 7 November 2014), a host of celebrity chefs are joining forces with school cooks to promote the great school lunch. It comes just months after the launch of free school meals for 2.8 million primary school children and the introduction of cooking on the curriculum.
On Monday, the Deputy Prime Minister will be joining school children at Brasserie Blanc in Oxford, to get some top cooking tips from Raymond Blanc, before heading to a primary school in North London to cook up a storm with Lorraine Pascale.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
It’s a very simple truth that if you don’t give children a healthy, balanced meal at lunchtime, you can’t expect them to sit down, concentrate and learn well in the afternoon.
That’s why I’m so proud of the work we’ve done in government to put school food back on the agenda. We’ve introduced new food standards, cooking on the curriculum and free school meals, which can save families up to £400 per year, help children do better in class and improve their daily diet.
This week is about not only encouraging children to really understand and enjoy the food they eat but to celebrate all the schools chefs and catering staff who work day-in day-out to help provide school meals and ensure that we live in a fairer society where every child can get the best possible start in life, regardless of their background.
Hundreds of schools across the country will also be taking part in the celebrations, which mark the biggest healthy eating awareness week aimed at children in England and Wales. With 1 in 5 children leaving primary school overweight and obese, ensuring a healthy, nutritionally balanced school lunch has never been so important.
To help raise awareness and enhance children’s relationships with food, school cooks will be taking their skills out of the school kitchen to showcase to parents and pupils the variety and quality of food now being served in schools.
Planned activities include:
- pop-up school kitchen outside Parliament to serve great school lunches to MPs on Tuesday 4 November. Top school food will be served by award-winning school chefs, including organic beef Jamaican Pie with mash, vegetable paella, cheesy leek pasta and tutti fruiti crumble
- celebrity chefs working with schools to highlight the tasty, health school food, including Gregg Wallace helping to serve lunch in Kent and Lorraine Pascale cooking for pupils in Haringey
- school chefs cooking a great school lunch at high-profile venues across the country, including the restaurants in Parliament, Manchester City football club and the Gherkin in London
Schools Minister David Laws, who will be visiting Thomas Jones Primary School in West London, said:
Eating a healthy, nutritious, meal at school has been proven to help children do better academically and we have made great progress in ensuring more and more pupils all over the country can enjoy those benefits.
With the help of hard working teachers and staff, we have improved the quality of food in schools without increasing costs and thanks to Universal Infant Free School Meals every child from the age of 6 to 8 has access to a healthy meal at lunchtime – saving parents up to £400 a year.
This week celebrates that progress and provides a chance to show off the creativity and talent of our hard working school cooks and catering staff to the wider community.
Notes to editors
National School Meals Week is organised by LACA, the lead association for catering in education, who work with schools to promote healthy school meals in primary and secondary schools, colleges and academies. LACA represents staff in schools, local authorities and catering services who provide 3 million lunches in 22,000 schools every day.
Universal free school meals for primary school pupils were a key recommendation in a review of school food produced independently for the Department for Education. The School Food Plan, published by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent in July 2013, recommended that government embark on a phased roll out of free school meals for all children in all primary schools.