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What do school meals have on the menu for 2015?

Those of us who went to school pre-Jamie Oliver are likely to have an altogether different view of school dinners to the kids of today, and the reshaping of term-time meals has continued into 2015, with further regulations coming into force as of the start of this year.

A full 22-page report titled ‘Revised standards for food in schools’ can be found on the Gov.uk website, but let’s take a look at some of the key mandatory regulations that must be now met by local authority schools and those converting to academy status:

Going for greens

Since 2007, schools have been required to provide at least one portion each of fruit and vegetables to every pupil. This remains the case, but vegetables must now be an accompaniment to the main meal.

A main portion may contain a portion of vegetables in itself, but must still be served alongside vegetables or salad. This is to help children get a better intake of fibre and vitamins.

Fewer fried foods

While there is nothing wrong with occasional fried meals, standards are addressing the fact that too many of them in a week can be one of the causes of childhood obesity.

Previous rules had only limited the amount of deep-fried servings during the week, but this has now been extended so that breadcrumb-battered and pastry-based foods are under the spotlight as well. These must all be provided no more than twice a week, in order to stop kids consuming too much saturated fat, salt, and sugar.

Water, water, everywhere

A child’s body uses around a litre of water every day, and school meal standards are reflecting the need for the liquid to be the base of kids’ drinks. Fruit juice, while an excellent source of vitamin C, tends to be high in sugar, so the new regulations state that it should take up no more than 150ml of a 330ml serving of any drink.

One of the key concerns raised about mandatory standards of school food is that putting certain items on a child’s plate does not ensure that they will eat them. This is where parents can help out by ensuring that they make children aware of why a healthy diet is important, and do their utmost to make a balanced diet fun and tasty. Showing where fruit and vegetables come from, and perhaps getting kids involved in growing and harvesting their own crops, can help towards this aim.

Posted by Susan
January 22, 2015

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