Jamie cooking with kids and family

Smaller portions with too many carbs and increasing free school meal numbers is worrying teachers.

Jamie’s call for new academies to follow the same compulsory nutritional standards as other schools has been supported by a vast majority of educational staff.
Having surveyed over 500 members, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 82 per cent of them agreed with Jamie and that many of them were worried about schools reducing portion size, due to budgetary restrictions. On top of this, a third of the respondents blamed the recession and increasing redundancy rates on growing numbers of pupils claiming a free school meal in the past five years.

The worrying minority concerned about the reduced meal sizes also expressed concern about the rising price of a school meal for those families who pay and meals that were too heavy in carbohydrates. Some suggested that schools were proactively increasing their free school meal eligibility to gain more funding rather than to get more children taking a school meal.

At their annual conference this week ATL members will be debating the importance of school meals and whether to support Jamie’s ‘Feed Me Even Better’ manifesto and Michelle Smith, Jamie’s School Project Manager hopes they vote to lend their weight to the campaign.

She added: “It is really encouraging to see a significant rise in free school meal eligibility across the country. A nutritious meal at lunch time is vital for all children. It increases a child’s concentration, improves their behaviour in class, and their chances of doing well and achieving their best at school. A school meal also accounts for at least one-third of a child’s daily nutritional intake so it is also important for their health and well being. For those children from lower income families a nutritious school meal is even more important as for many of them that meal could well be the only hot, nutritious meal they get each day.”

Michelle continued: “This survey highlights a worry we have had for a while, that some schools may be ‘profiteering’ by encouraging pupils to sign up for their free school meal without having to take one. “So for us, it has also got to be about increasing actual take up. Not only do we want to see more families registering their eligibility for a free school meal; but we also want to see those registrations result in more children actually choosing to eat a school meal every day. This is why, through our recent manifesto we are urging the government to invest in a credit system that means more families will be eligible for a free school meal and for all schools including new academies, to continue to invest in a quality school meals service that meets the nutritional standards for school food and provides an attractive menu and dining experience for pupils so that together we can literally continue to feed our children better.”

About the author: Jim Tanfield is Jamie's Online Editor

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