The Plan is designed to shake up current school meal menus and get pupils interested in school food.
From September, all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children in state-funded schools in England will be entitled to free school meals.
But there are a range of issues that will affect the success of this approach.
The rules for what is allowed have been recently changed. From September 2014, the school meal requirements include:
• one or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day
• at least three different fruits and three 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 quarter pints (150ml)
• restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to 5%
• no more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated
• no more than two portions of food that include pastry each week
• a portion of milk (lower fat and lactose reduced) to be made available once a day.
Cater for the Masses
School chefs tend to get put under a lot of pressure to serve food en masse, especially as now menus are changing for the better and different methods of cooking are being used. There’s a big difference between lowering the industrial chip pan into burning oil and ensuring that the pasta is cooked a la dente!
According to the Government, schools have a real opportunity to shine in the catering department. Dietician Ursula Philpot, has revealed that currently, 57% of pupils had packed lunches.
“We have to rebrand school meals and make them something that children want to do. That can only be done by training the chefs, by training the catering staff, by making the school environment – where children eat – better,” she states.
According to reports, over 2,700 schools in England will need to improve kitchens to provide free meals for infant school children under the Plan, and more than 1,700 schools did not even have a kitchen. However, money is being made available to rectify this problem, with the Government announcing that it is providing £150m to improve kitchens and dining facilities.
So what will this money be spent on? Here’s a suggestion, a long lasting, proven reliable oven that is covered by maintenance plans and packages from installers local to the area, who can be relied on to immediately react should any problem arise. Companies like Rational which sells ovens and AC Services (Southern) who installs and maintains them in the South West of England, Southern England and South Wales. http://www.rational-online.com/en/home/index.php
“With these new avenues and extra funding offered to schools, it is essential that they get the best advice possible on renewing their catering facilities,” comments Helen from AC Services. “Many school kitchens have old fashioned appliances that have not been upgraded recently. Now is an ideal opportunity to spend the allocated money on quality appliances, such as Rational.”
With a new, modern kitchen and high quality catering equipment, school catering services can be transformed, with not only the quality of meals going up as a result of more efficient catering equipment, but also the interest of impressionable age pupils in a career within the catering industry. So let’s not underestimate the importance of the school kitchen in education.