Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

School meals turn the corner

12 August 2010
School meals turn the corner

To some people the numbers may not look huge. But for those of us working with school food on a daily basis the announcement of this year's rise in school lunch take-up is particularly significant: we know just how much those percentage-point increases - 2.1 in primary schools and 0.8 in secondary schools - really mean after years of work to implement the national standards.

With an extra 320,980 children now choosing to have a school lunch, it's one of the biggest year-on-year increases for a decade and a sign that the downward spiral of so many years is finally in reverse. After turning their backs on canteens as the quality of food declined, children are coming back for good food and dining rooms where they want to spend their breaks.

This good news follows much hard work, perseverance and a willingness to embrace change by schools, caterers, local authorities and many others who have worked in partnership with the School Food Trust to ensure that young people are better fed.

For example, even some of the most experienced school caterers are retraining and updating their skills through our national School FEAST training network.

Steps like this show that those involved in school food provision increasingly acknowledge how critical it is to respond to the needs of young people and their evolving expectations as customers, while introducing them to new food that also meets robust standards.

Nevertheless, the job is by no means done, and our work to improve the quality and take-up of school food must, and will, continue.

The proven correlation between good eating habits, long-term health benefits and an improved capacity to learn drives this important agenda onwards with no room for complacency.

Though the figures are extremely encouraging, we are still looking at a majority of schoolchildren who are not choosing school meals - for a whole variety of reasons.

As Jamie Oliver rightly said in his reaction to these results, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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