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School Meals

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of the new requirements for nutritional analysis of school lunches on the capacity of schools to (a) maintain their own menus and (b) provide nutritionally-balanced meals; what representations he has received from schools on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (260445)

Nutrient-based standards have been mandatory in primary schools since September 2008 and come into effect in secondary and special schools from September 2009. The School Food Trust has undertaken pilots in both primary and secondary schools to assess the practical steps schools and catering organisations would need to take in order to implement the standards. Both sets of pilots found that while implementing the nutrient-based standards does require schools to change those menus that are not compliant, the standards are nevertheless achievable and essential to improving the nutritional health of children. The lessons learned from both the primary and secondary pilots have been published in the trust’s guidance on introducing nutrient-based standards which includes case studies at primary and secondary level.

The School Food Trust has produced a caterer’s guide to enable caterers to gather the information needed to demonstrate compliance with the standards. It has also undertaken an independent review of Nutritional Analysis Support Packages; this has been published as a guide and distributed to schools who manage their own catering services.

While we are aware of concern in some parts of the sector around introducing nutritional standards in secondary schools from September, no representations from schools have been received on these.