The FSA and Department for Education have launched a School Food Standards compliance pilot involving 18 authorities in the England.
A total of 18 local authorities across England are participating in the School Food Standards compliance pilot created by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Department for Education (DfE).
This pilot has been set up to understand whether schools across England are adhering to the School Food Standards that exist to make sure children are being nutritiously fed during school hours.
“We all want to ensure that the food served in schools meets the standards that have been set,” said Professor Susan Jebb, FSA Chair.
“This project will give insight into what’s happening in schools today and identify whether additional support is needed to help them to do the very best they can for children and drive positive change in the school food system.”
According to the UK Government’s school food standard practical guide, “eating in schools should be a pleasurable experience”.
With this in mind, the practical guide has been designed to help children develop healthy eating habits while simultaneously ensuring school children are being given the energy and nutrition they need to “get the most from their whole school day”.
To ensure schools understand what they should be serving throughout the day, the UK Government has created a checklist for school food lunches. As well as this, it has explained exactly what a child’s healthy, balanced diet should consist of.
Aspects of this balanced diet include plenty of fruit, vegetables and unrefined starchy foods. Additionally, some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein as well as milk and dairy foods. It has also said that a small amount of food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar is necessary.
However, a survey of school meal providers by the LACA (The School Food People) revealed that of 9,874 schools across England and Wales, 91 percent of respondents admitted to experiencing food shortages, thus suggesting that many children may be a risk of not getting the healthy, balanced meal that the UK Government seeks to make available.
After initially being announced in the Levelling Up White Paper earlier in 2022, the joint initiative, which is supported by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), has been established to design and test a new approach in supporting schools to comply with aforementioned School Food Standards.
The FSA has said that local authorities taking part in the pilot have started to introduce some additional questions this academic term, as well as making observations related to the School Foods Standards (such as nutrition focused questions and observations including menu checks).
To ensure that the standards are being followed, the FSA has said that local authorities will work with schools to instigate supportive interventions.
The FSA has said that the pilot will run in line with the full academic year. For a full list of local authorities participating, click here.
Summarising the aim of the pilot, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “This pilot will help schools meet the school food standards and will ensure more schools offer balanced and nutritious meals to support education throughout the day.”