School caterers have called on the Government to water down the new food standards for secondary schools or face the collapse of the school dinners system in England.
Speaking at an emergency school meals summit in London yesterday, Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) chairman Neil Porter reiterated school concerns that the new food rules for secondaries, which are due to come into force this September, were a step too far.
"Is there any benefit in selling healthier school meals to fewer children?" Porter said in his opening speech.
LACA, which published research yesterday suggesting nearly two-thirds of secondary schools in England will miss the deadline for new meal standards, put forward alternative proposals at the summit.
Porter called on the Government to instigate nutrient-based standards for the main meal of the day at secondary schools but to allow all other food served to comply with the existing, and less stringent, food-based standards for school dinners.
Porter also wants the Government to immediately revaluate the level at which children are entitled to free school meals, as around half of children classed as living in poverty in England do not qualify ay present, to boost falling school dinner uptake.
LACA also wants the Government to commit to providing additional funding for school meals past the current 2011 cut-off.
Sandra Russell, former LACA chairman and a speaker at the summit, added: "LACA members are not resistant to change, we've had change on a yearly basis for many years but we've never been so concerned as we are now."
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