The Government has earmarked an extra £240m to subsidise healthy ingredients in school meals until 2011.
The announcement came as pupils in England were being presented with healthier choices on the school dinner menu and in vending machines.
The new funding is in addition to the £220m already going to schools and local authorities to support the nutritional guidelines, which have been introduced to counter growing levels of childhood obesity.
Under the plans announced today, from 2008, secondary school pupils will be offered cookery lessons, while training kitchens will be set up in each area to train school cooks on day release.
Education Secretary Alan Johnson said: “We have already invested heavily to radically transform school food and with today’s announcement of extra funding we’re taking another big step to ensure parents know pupils will get the nutrients they need during the school day and that school cooks get the kitchens and training they need to deliver healthier food.
“But tackling obesity and encouraging a healthy lifestyle is not just about the food that children eat at school. We must also teach them the skills they need to cook so that they continue to eat healthily in later life.”
The £240m cash injection will be given directly to local authorities and schools to subsidise ingredients for healthy meals after the end of the current £220m transitional fund in 2007/08.
Compass, which supplies nearly 2,000 schools, colleges and universities welcomed the extra cash.
UK chief executive Ian El-Mokadem said: “Extra funding is key. One of the problems was that if you’re trying to cook a good meal in a primary school for 37p that’s pretty tough.
“Thanks to the extra money that’s more like 50-plus pence in primary and a lot more than that in secondary.”
By Daniel Thomas
Published by: The Caterer