Food in Schools
Healthy Eating is a critically important and often underestimated factor in ensuring good health. The food we eat is becoming increasingly important in a time where our lifestyles are contributing to poor physical, mental, and emotional ill-health in addition to overweight and obesity, across all life stages.
School is a key environment for promoting healthy diet and facilitating healthy habits and behaviour change, and in addition to the impact that nutrition has on our health, there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates it has a significant impact on behaviour, concentration, achievement, and attainment (Public Health England, 2014).
Children's diet can be an important influence on their health now and in the future. There are growing numbers of people affected by chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. A good diet in childhood can help to protect against chronic diseases like these in later life.
Current statistics show that increasing numbers of children and young people are either overweight or obese.
- Most children in the UK eat too much fat, especially saturated fat, added sugars and salt.
Children on average eat only 2 out of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Poorly nourished children, especially those who are overweight or obese, often experience social and psychological problems. This can clearly have a significant impact on behaviour and performance in schools.
Schools have an important part to play in developing a positive food culture in school- one where the healthier food choice becomes the 'norm' so that the healthier choice becomes the easier choice.
School food plan
The government's plan focuses on how to improve school food and school children's diets in both primary and secondary schools and provides lots of information about cooking in the curriculum. Looking at the role food and cooking should play in schools as well as what the government themselves can do to get children to eat well at school.
Find out more about the plan or alternatively visit the School Food Plan website which has lots of resources and case studies to support you in your schools.
School food standards
The school food standards changed in January 2015. All local authority maintained schools, academies and free schools set up before 2010 and created from June 2014 onwards must meet these new standards for school food, underpinned by legislation.
The new standards are designed to make it easier for school cooks to create imaginative, flexible and nutritious menus. The new standards include:
- 1 or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day
- at least 3 different fruits, and 3 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 150mls
- restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to 5%
- no more than 2 portions a week of food that has been deep fried, batter coated, or breadcrumb coated
- no more than 2 portions of food which include pastry each week
The eatwell guide provides a breakdown of what we should be eating across the five main food groups to be sure we are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Find out more about how the eatwell guide works.