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TV chef wants school meals to be free

24 June 2005

Antony Worrall Thompson has waded into the school food debate by calling for meals to be made free to all children.

Speaking at the European Catering Association annual conference in London last week, the celebrity chef-restaurateur said it was the job of the Government to ensure that children ate at least one nutritious meal per day.

"The Government seriously needs to think where school meals are going," he said. "Think of the savings to the NHS in years to come - it's the logical way forward."

The owner of London's Notting Grill restaurant said such an initiative should be funded by taxing "non-essential foods".

"We need some food to survive properly, like milk and butter, but we should tax the rest. Ready meals and crisps? Tax the lot of them."

Worrall Thompson also trumpeted a return to the past when children had only one choice, adding that today's generation would benefit from such a model.

"It's not just about throwing more money at school catering. Some choice should be taken away - if there are twenty healthy options and chips, kids will go for the chips."

The chef also called on schools to ban fizzy drink and snack vending machines.

Food service consultant Norman Deas believes it would be politically difficult to bring in free school meals but acknowledged that limited choice may be the way forward.

"The Government will eventually have to take some of the unhealthy choices away," she said.

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