New rules for school dinners

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New rules for school meals in England come into force at the beginning of the new term to ensure they are healthy and nutritious, and will be mandatory for local authority schools, new free schools and schools that convert to academy status.

School meals must now include one or more portions of vegetables or salad every day and no more than two portions of fried foods or pastry-based foods each week.

The new regulations are in response to a review of school meals by founders of the Leon food chain John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby in July, which examined nutritional content and how school meals could be improved.

Details of the new food plan were unveiled in the summer and will replace findings and regulations Jamie Oliver set in place back in 2012.

Mr Oliver led a successful campaign to ban junk and processed food from school canteens and tight nutritional guidelines were brought in. However, he expressed frustration at the time that academy schools were exempt from these rules.

Under the new school food plan, academies established before 2010 or after June 2014 are obliged to follow the standards set out, but those founded between 2010 and June 2014 remain exempt.

The Department for Education said the previous rules ‘helped to improve the nutritional quality of the food being served in most schools’ but were too ‘complex’ and placed a ‘burden’ on canteens.

Deputy prime minister Mr Clegg said: "The revised school food standards will allow schools to be more creative in their menus.

"They are easier for schools to understand and crucially they will continue to restrict unhealthy foods to ensure our children eat well."

Outline of changes:

  • one or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day
  • at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week
  • an emphasis on wholegrain foods in place of refined carbohydrates
  • an emphasis on making water the drink of choice
  • limiting fruit juice portions to quarter pints (150ml)
  • restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to 5%
  • no more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated
  • no more than two portions of food that include pastry each week
  • a portion of milk (lower fat and lactose reduced) to be made available once a day
School Leadership Today
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