The Government's ambition to ensure every child sits down to a healthy meal each day is a "long, long way" from being achieved, the Liberal Democrats have warned.
The latest school meal uptake figures released last week by the School Food Trust showed a fall in secondary uptake of 0.5% to 37.2% while primary uptake increased 2.3% to 43.6%.
David Laws, Lib Dems schools spokesman, said while the rise in primary school meal-uptake was good news, secondary uptake remained below pre Jamie Oliver levels.
"Labour has missed its own March 2008 target for improved uptake by 400,000 children," he told delegates at the Local Authority Caterers Association at the Hilton Metropole at Birmingham's NEC. "It is currently 750,000 children below its final autumn 2009 target."
Laws said the drive by the Government to improve school meals was welcome, as was the hard work by caterers and the public's growing recognition of their importance.
However, he questioned the way change was being implemented. "We are moving from some of the loosest food standards in the developed world to some of the most stringent.
"Is there a risk that the ideal could become the enemy of good? Are the nutritional standards flexible enough, especially for secondaries, and how will they be monitored?"
By Chris Druce
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