Jamie has written to every single MP urging them to sign up to his charter which will ensure academies are in line with national nutritional guidelines.
The letters were delivered straight into the MPs’ letterboxes in Parliament on the same day new research has highlighted the importance of the campaign to the health of the nation’s schoolchildren.
Jamie said: “For the first time, we have solid evidence from the academies themselves that nutritional standards are in real danger. These standards are there for a reason – to help prevent England from sliding further behind when it comes to essential action to fight child obesity and diet-related disease. Mr. Gove (Secretary of State for Education) is putting our children's future health at risk.
“Today, I have written to all MPs asking them to sign Zac Goldsmith’s Early Day Motion which demands that academies work within the nutritional guidelines. If your MP does not support this motion then you can safely assume that they don’t care about the well-being of our children and the future of our country.”
The School Food Trust research released today proves that food in some academy schools is failing to meet national standards designed to keep schools menus healthy.
Academies and free schools don’t have to follow the national school meal standards legislation, which in maintained schools has seen levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt fall in the average school meal; pupils eating more fruit and vegetables; the elimination of confectionary, crisps and sugary drinks from schools and a dramatic shift in the ‘chips with everything’ culture of a decade ago.
The charity’s research shows a mixed picture for food in academies at the moment, with some continuing to do very well at following the standards and demonstrating good practice, but others doing less well – particularly when it comes to confectionary, soft drinks and snacks like crisps.
An independent study with a sample of 100 academies shows that around one-third described school catering as a “burden” and said that the standards were too restrictive, and 10 schools said outright that they are either ‘unable’ to follow the legislation in full or that they ‘choose not to’.
You can more info on this joint campaign here www.sustainweb.org/sos/
Here is Jamie’s letter to MPs in full:
Dear (MP's name),
I hope you’re well. I know you’re extremely busy so I won’t take up much of your time, but I wanted to write to you personally to ask you to sign EDM 54 and support the ‘Save Our School Food Standards’ campaign. It’s not just backed by me, it’s got full support from children’s food experts across the UK – The Children’s Food Campaign, The Food for Life Partnership, LACA and School Food Matters.
Back in 2005, my School Dinners series on Channel 4 lead to a public and media outcry. People were shocked at the poor quality food we were serving our kids for lunch, and that’s for five days a week, 190 days of the year, from the ages of five to 16. The School Food Trust was established in response to this outcry, and nutritional standards for school meals were introduced, removing the worst of the junk food from our school dining halls.
Since then, we have really turned things around for the better and around three million children in the UK now benefit from a school meal that meets nutritional standards, and take-up has been continually growing. This is fantastic news because a nutritious school lunch increases children’s concentration and can improve their behaviour, their chances of doing well and achieving their potential at school.
But there are clear signs that the huge investment and hard graft that teachers, school cooks, dinner ladies and caterers have put in over the last six years may be completely undermined as recent government policies threaten to undo all the progress we’ve made. Mr Gove’s decision that academies and free schools do not have to comply with school food standards is a real concern. To my mind, and all of the partnering organisations that support this, this is a massive erosion of everything we have achieved. I passionately believe that this is taking a huge step in the wrong direction as far as taking care of our children, and the future of this country, is concerned. His decision means that the one million children attending academy schools no longer have any standards in place to protect the food they eat every day.
The positive impact that the introduction of these nutritional standards has had has been one of single most powerful fights against obesity and diet-related disease we’ve seen in the UK, and to remove these standards will quite simply be the most negative thing that we could do for our kids. Please help to prevent this from happening by signing or showing your support for EDM 54, which calls for school food standards to apply to all schools. It will cost the Government nothing to make this commitment.
Thanks for your support