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School meals panel to opt for Caroline Walker standards?

26 July 2005

The Caroline Walker Trust (CWT) standards for school food in England and Wales have been tipped to become the new yardstick for school meals.

The revised guidelines, which were announced at the end of June, are just one option on the table of the school meals working panel, but industry sources believe they are the most likely to be adopted. They outline what nutrients children should eat in one week.

The panel, which is made up of caterers, nutritionists and education experts, met for the third time last week to decide what standards should underpin the Government's £220m school meals initiative.

A member of the 30-strong group said: "We split into three groups and were given a series of objectives, including what guidelines to adopt and whether certain foods should be banned."

Although they agreed on the need for higher standards, the group has encountered practical problems.

"Ensuring all kids eat a proper meal has knock-on effects for kitchen staff, supervisory staff and the structure of the school day," said the panel member. "The overall feeing is that it's a very complex issue."

The group, which includes representatives from Scolarest, the Local Authority Caterers Association and a large in-house operator from Birmingham, is also considering whether to recommend the return of home economics to the curriculum.

A final meeting is planned for August, when the group will draw up a report to go out for consultation. This consultation process will last until Christmas and the government hopes to send its final guidelines to schools in January 2006.

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