In 2012, following a government announcement, Jamie stated that action was needed on school dinners – not more reports.
The government said that it had asked the co-founders of LEON restaurant chain, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, to examine school food across the country.
Jamie appealed for the government to listen and act on advice about the dangers posed by poor school food rather than waste money on further reports echoing what is already known – that standards needed improving and fast.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “There has been an improvement in school food in recent years with many schools transforming school dinners, introducing food growing into the curriculum and teaching cookery. However, there is still more to do particularly in taking localised successes and ensuring they are replicated nationally.
“Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent bring a wealth of practical experience in delivering good food on a budget. I am delighted they have agreed to develop a robust plan to improve school food and ensure children are given an education that cultivates in them an understanding of food and nutrition.”
Jamie responded: “It would be great to be able to welcome this report as I know Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent will do a thorough job. But now is not the time for more costly reports. Now is the time for action and that doesn’t seem to be what we get from Mr Gove when it comes to school food and food education. This just delays action for another year or more.
“I thought it was ironic that this morning’s announcement by Mr Gove was given at a lovely school with a kitchen garden – much like the gardens my Foundation is beginning to build across the UK – and with a dedicated school caterer creating freshly cooked meals on site, but this simply does not reflect the current resource and reality in most schools around the country. I believe these things urgently need to be the norm in schools – along with support for good school food and further training in the school food service. I’m fairly confident that the gentlemen from Leon will end up pushing for the same things that I, and many others, have been pushing for years, but the question is, will Mr Gove listen? Will he finally do anything about the problems in school food?
“Is it too much to ask for a government which listens and which sees the ill-health of our country’s children as a major challenge to be met with important, sustainable policies to actually solve the problems? Will this be just another report by good people which is destined to be ignored? I hope not but I fear it will.”