There is still a generation that remembers chocolate concrete and pink custard, and mixing swede and cabbage in with the mash. Are these days of primary school cuisine to return? Apparently not, as the the announcement that all pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September, has led to much speculation about the quality of the food to be provided.
The announcement last month of free primary school meals for all pupils was one of the recommendations of a recent review by The Department for Education by esteemed restaurateurs, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent. Their findings from this School Plan revealed that packed lunches are less nutritious than a cooked meal, and academic standards would be raised by providing all children with free lunches. Alarmingly, statistics report that nearly 20% of children are obese when they leave primary school but this move towards providing free school meals is aimed at reducing this figure. There is a cost, however, but one which the Government is willing to meet.
Government to Offer Funding
Now here’s the interesting part for schools: this is an excerpt from a letter sent to headteachers in England from the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State and the Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools: “We have allocated significant new funding to support this policy – over £1billion between 2014 and 2016, including £150million of capital funding in 2014-15 to improve kitchen and dining facilities.”
It will be the responsibility of headteachers to spend this money wisely by putting in or upgrading a kitchen infrastructure that will accommodate catering needs is essential. If any educational establishment has a Rational oven installed or has bought one and needs it installed, AC Services can maintain, repair and service it as a vital part of the contract. Imagine a dining room full of hungry children with no food due to a fault of any kind in the kitchen area? Headteachers will have the responsibility to ensure that a package is put into place which literally caters for any eventuality, which includes regular cleaning and maintenance, all of which are supplied by AC Services.
Recipe for Success
The letter continues: “We appreciate that you may have concerns about the logistical challenges of feeding more children: everything from managing longer queues to adapting your dining area or kitchen. The pilot projects showed that, with commitment on all sides and good planning, none of these challenges are insurmountable. We would therefore urge you to start as soon as possible to consider the implications of this policy for your school, such as renegotiating existing catering contracts, and how you plan to deliver it.” It is now time for headteachers to act.