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Jamie Oliver does more to improve school meals than Goverment, say parents

07 April 2006

Jamie Oliver has done more to improve schools meals than the Government, according to a survey of parents.

The study by the British Market Research Bureau, which interviewed 540 parents, found three-quarters (75%) believed standards had risen over the last year.

Of those that thought standards had improved, 44% thought the improvement was down to Oliver.

Only 13% of those surveyed credited the improvement in school meals to school managers, while 12% thought the Government was to thank, 11% local authorities, 8% parents, 6% caterers and 4% dinner ladies.

Kevin MacKay, chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association, said the study was a positive sign.

"I'm delighted because this is the first encouraging sign we've had that parents have seen an improvement. It just needs to be translated into bigger meal sales now," he said.

He was more sceptical about Jamie Oliver's direct impact on standards. "He didn't do any more than highlight the issues. If parents have seen an improvement on the plate since his TV series then that's down to the caterers."

Trisha Jaffe, headteacher at Kidbrooke school in Greenwich, London, where Oliver filmed his original four-part series, said: "It was a hard struggle at first but it has been well worth it. We have 600 children now using the canteen regularly with another 100 buying Jamie's healthy packed lunches."

Two-thirds of parents said they would pay more for meals made with fresher ingredients, but this was a drop from 75% last year although the report's authors said this reflects increased levels of satisfaction.

The number of parents who described school food as "poor or fair" dropped from 22% last year to 11% in 2006.

By Tom Bill

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