The age of austerity is upon us, and school meals provision hasn't been sparedthe Government's deep cuts.
Plans to extend pilot schemes of free school meals to all primary pupils below the poverty line have been shelved by Education Secretary, Michael Gove. The good news is that existing pilots are to continue. We must hope they produce a compelling case for the long-term benefits of nutritious school meals on kids' health, wellbeing and performance.
We await the Coalition Government's decision on the school meals grant, which runs out in March 2011. At best, it could remain at its current level and be ring-fenced. At worst, it could disappear. This latter scenario cannot be allowed to happen.
In the UK at present, one in three 11-year-olds is obese. Between 1997 and 2003 there was a 74% increase in new cases of diabetes, costing the National Health Service £1m an hour to treat.
A well-funded school meals service can contribute to a reduction in these alarming figures by encouraging children to engage with food and embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Our School Meals Matter campaign to ensure the grant has thousands of signatures already but we want the full weight of the industry behind it when we present it to the coalition Government later this month.
If school meals matter for you, your business or your children, go to http://www.caterersearch.com/smm" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.caterersearch.com/smm and sign our petition before it's too late.
Who do you believe is the most powerful person in the UK hospitality industry? In this week's issue, in association with Bisto, we have put together the third Caterersearch.com 100 - a list of the 100 most important figures in our business, whose actions we believe are having the most impact in 2010. It has been quite a challenge and taken a huge amount of work to rigorously collate the list and write 100 individual profiles.
To compile the list, a panel of experts have pooled their experience to analyse, judge and assemble industry personalities into our top 100 power players. I'm sure there are some rankings you don't agree with and if you don't think we've got it entirely right, we look forward to debating it with you on our community site, Table Talk.
In the meantime, have a look at our eight-page article in Caterer & Hotelkeeper covering the full list or peruse all the profiles at your leisure at www.caterersearch.com/100. Happy reading!
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper