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School Food Standards

If your answer to this question is you’re not sure, then I don’t blame you. The current School Food Standards, which came into force in January 2015 were last reviewed in 2014. And, since than the world has changed and it is a different place, in so many ways!

House of Lord Report findings

A newly published report (July 2020) by the House of Lords: Hungry for Change: fixing the failures in food, pulls together evidence on the latest links between inequality, public health and food sustainability.

This report calls on government to make changes to The Standards for School Food in England and ensure they are more robust.

It is difficult to understand what, in truth, the school food standards achieve.

Hungry for Change: fixing the failure in food, Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment

Recommendations are made to Government across different areas to fix the food system and ensure that a healthy, sustainable diet is accessible to everybody.

However the report clearly points out that it isn’t just the standards themselves that need revising. A lack of monitoring or enforcement is a “critical weakness” to ensuring school food meets the required School Food Standards.

Report recommendations for School Food Standards

The House of Lords report makes the following recommendations to Government:

  • Monitoring and evaluation of school food standards should be centrally coordinated to ensure consistent compliance
  • The Department for Education and Health and Social Care should establish a joint task force responsible for monitoring and enforcing adherence to the school food standards
  • The taskforce should have the power to publish the names of non-adhering schools and where necessary require the development of an agreed action plan to meet standards

“If we look at food standards in schools, this should be done by people who know something about food standards. We cannot require Ofsted inspectors to be nutritionists and food standards experts as well.”

Mary Bousted, Joint General-Secretary of the National Education Union. Citation from Hungry for Change: fixing the failure in food, Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment

Current School Food Standards are still mandatory

It will take a while longer to update the School Food Standards and introduce a new robust inspection process. However, I recommend that all schools use the food-based standards as a benchmark of minimum standards for school food.

The aim of School Food Standards is to help children develop healthy eating habits and ensure that they meet their nutritional needs across the school day.

The standards set out which foods should be served at school and limits less healthy foods. These standards apply to all food served in maintained schools, including food made in and out-of-house.

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