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Jamie Oliver continues quest to improve school meals

14 March 2006

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is to call on the Government to establish a 10-15 year plan to improve school meals.

Speaking at a school meals conference in London today, the food campaigner said he would ask Education Secretary Ruth Kelly for more time and cash when he met her, sometime within the next two months.

Oliver said: "We need to up the budget by two or three times and we need a proper 10 or 15 year plan. The sector has deteriorated over the past 20 years, so we need investment to put it right."

Filming for a new one-off school meals programme, Oliver told Local Authority Caterers Association chairman Kevin McKay that he was worried about the fall in school meals uptake since Jamie's School Dinners aired.

"What can I do to stop getting thumped by you?" Oliver asked McKay. "We really need to shout about the good schools in the next programme."

Oliver apologised to caterers and dinner ladies for painting them in a bad light in his school meals TV series.

"My intention was to get behind the catering staff, but if I've tarred them all with a bad brush then I am sorry," he said.

The chef, who recently visited schools in Lincolnshire as part of his new programme, warned that 10% of the country still doesn't have a hot meal service.

"One school I went to bought two water coolers with the extra government cash. What affect is that going have?" he said.

Oliver also wants cookery to become a compulsory subject in the national curriculum to boost food awareness amongst children and parents.

His new programme will be shown on Channel 4 this autumn.

By Tom Bill

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