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School food standards are back in the headlines

A new Government White Paper: Levelling Up the United Kingdom, published in February 2022 sets out plans to monitor how schools across the country are meeting required standards.

Why now?

Henry Dimbleby’s independent review, published in 2021, recommended the monitoring of compliance with standards, along with setting out a National Food Strategy for England.

Plans to improve school food standards

Newly released plans state that the Food Standards Agency and DfE will work together over the next six months to “design and test a new approach for local authorities” to help implement and monitor these food standards in schools. The project will start in March and is expected to go live in September. The following local authorities will be involved in the pilot project:

  • Blackpool Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Nottingham City Council

Developing a robust assurance system

Local authorities will be responsible for assuring and supporting compliance with the food standards in schools within their area. Initially,
schools will be encouraged to publish a statement on their websites about
their whole school approach to food, but the intention is for this to
become mandatory in the future.

The UK Government hopes that monitoring of the school food standards will enable:

▶ Accountability
▶ Transparency
▶ Assurance
▶ Compliance

What are the School Food Standards?

The latest set of School Food Standards were published in 2014 and became mandatory in January 2015. These were largely unmonitored, leaving schools and caterers to interpret and implement as they saw fit. The School Food Plan launched in 2013 put the onus on self-auditing through checklists.

What should school caterers do now?

  1. Revisit the school food standards
  2. Check that your menus comply with the standards using the self-audit checklists
  3. Speak to your headteacher, SLT and Governors about your school’s whole school approach to food: There is a checklist for headteachers and Governors available here
  4. Organise a training session on the importance of a Good School Food Culture
  5. Promote what you are doing on your school website

We are here to help

If you need support complying with school food standards, please contact our team on
01252 705214 or

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