There is no doubt school food has made fantastic improvements over the last eight years. Children are taught about health and nutrition in the curriculum. Food served in school now meets strict standards. The growing and cooking of food in schools has also become more common. The government has recognised that this culture needs nurturing so that pupils in all schools can be in an environment where nutritious, desirable food is available to them. See School Food Plan for what experts recommend that our government does to improve school food.
Choosing a healthy school meal helps children and young people learn and gives them more energy – as well as important vitamins and minerals! It has links to improved behaviour, improved academic performance and increased intake of a variety of foods. From September 2014 children in reception, year one and year two will receive a free school meal. For more details, go to free school meals on in the related pages section. Also changing are the food standards, which will ensure all food provided by schools is as nutritious as possible.
Leeds City Council are working with schools and caterers to make sure all schools are ready to serve healthy, delicious meals in a safe and comfortable environment. So children across all year groups will benefit from the change and should be encouraged to take a school meal too.
Learning about healthy food
Another change coming to school food is that from year one to year nine cooking in the curriculum will be mandatory. The emphasis will be on teaching children how to prepare healthy, savoury meals as opposed to baking or decorating cakes. By the age of 15 all children in England should know how to make five savoury dishes. Leeds City Council are supporting teachers in Leeds to learn new cooking skills to teach young children and considering what equipment, space and support they need to run lessons.
There is support and training for schools in Leeds and beyond to achieve an optimum food culture available from The Health & Wellbeing Service at Leeds City Council:
- School Food Ambassador programme. This gives a pupil voice to all aspects of food in school and can improve school meal experience and uptake. For more details, go to the School Ambassador page in the related pages section.
- School Food & Packed Lunch policies which aim to encourage schools to achieve the same standards for packed lunches as they do for school meals and ensure a whole school approach to healthy eating. Go to the Packed lunch and drinks page in the related pages section.
- Cooking skills for teachers. So healthy recipes and basic skills can be introduced in all schools from reception. For more information go to the school wellbeing website in the external links section.
- Leeds Youth Council who support the Leeds School Meals Strategy and promote the policies and resources
- Free School Meals Training: To help those who work with families to change people’s behaviour and attitude to free school meals and encourage families to check whether they are entitled.
If you are on benefits, your child may be entitled to free school meals. Please see the Free School Meals page in the related pages section for more information on how to check if you are eligible.