School meals have hit the headlines once again. This time it's because they were the subject of an episode of the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches, which aimed to unveil the "school food scandal". But somehow, and frustratingly, it missed the point.
While it revealed evidence to support the case for making nutritional standards mandatory in all schools - currently, academies do not need to comply - it failed to recognise that there are plenty of examples of excellent work being done in school canteens around the country.
Instead it focused on fast food and politics. Fast-food operators were heavily criticised for opting to open outlets in the vicinity of secondary schools.
Domino's Pizza was singled out as the main offender, despite the delivery service chain's insistence that in some areas it is impossible not to open within 400m of a school.
Local authorities that pick this particular battle are spending huge sums of money to keep fighting the good fight, according to Dispatches, but the benefits of schools instead implementing a stay-on-site policy wasn't broached.
According to Leon co-founder and recently appointed reviewer of school food Henry Dimbleby, it had to be scientifically proven for people to see that if you don't sell chocolate bars in school and you don't allow students to go off site, they will not eat junk food. This is what most people would see as plain old common sense.
Rather than the constant bashing of areas still in need of improvement, isn't it about time that school caterers were applauded for their achievements to date and supported as they try to develop further?
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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