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School Meals

Volume 458: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) with which partnership the School Food Trust is working on its plans for regional training kitchens for the school food workforce; how many such kitchens there will be; and by what date it is planned that the kitchens will be operational; (125819)

(2) what discussions (a) his Department and (b) the School Food Trust have had with private sector companies on the provision and equipment of the proposed regional training kitchens.

The School Food Trust (SFT) has been asked by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to lead on the establishment of regional training centres in recognition of the fact that the full range of training offered is likely to be broader than cooking skills. The SFT’s aim is to establish the first of these in spring 2007 with a national network operational by the end of March 2008.

A target for the number of RTCs has not been set. The final number will depend upon the number and quality of bids, and local needs.

The SFT has been working with partners to develop criteria against which to judge applications to become regional training centres. These partners include school cooks, head teachers, local authorities, private sector catering providers, FE colleges, the Learning and Skills Council, People 1st, the Training and Development Agency, the Food Standards Agency, Department of Health and DfES. Two stakeholder events were held in Birmingham in January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which baseline year he has selected by which to judge the School Food Trust’s performance against its targets of increasing school meal uptake by four percentage points by March 2008 and 10 percentage points by autumn 2009; and how many school meals were consumed in that year. (125820)

The School Food Trust’s performance will be judged against the baseline information on school meals take-up set out in the report on the School Food Trust’s first annual survey of take-up of school meals in England for the 2005/06 year. The School Food Trust’s survey collected information on the percentage take-up of school meals in primary and secondary schools rather than on the number of school meals that were consumed. The Department did not collect information on the number of school meals that were consumed in 2005/06.