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The second report from the Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy has made new recommendations for schools which include:

Make schools work with accreditation scheme’
Under a proposed new 'eat and learn; initiative, which would have its own team at the Department for Education, the government should require schools to work with accreditation schemes, such as Food for Life, to improve food and food education in schools,

These schemes would also “provide training and support for leaders and staff”.

As an absolute minimum, to achieve bronze certification, schools should be required to account for how school food funds had been” adequately spent” and fully comply with the school food standards and government buying standards for food.

They would also have to demonstrate that the food and nutrition curriculum was being met and ensure their catering staff are adequately trained to deliver quality meals.

Double funding for fruit and veg scheme
Funding for the school fruit and vegetable scheme, which entitles every child in England aged four to six to a piece of fruit or vegetable each day, should be doubled, from £40.4m to £80.8m a year.

But the government should give the money directly to schools rather than administering the scheme centrally. This will allow schools to procure higher quality produce from local suppliers.

ncrease FSM threshold to £20k to reach 1.1m more pupils
Part one of the National Food Strategy called last year for eligibility to be extended to the children of everyone on universal credit, at a cost of £670m per year.

However, today’s report said given the increase in the number of people eligible for universal credit since the beginning of the pandemic, implementing its previous call would now cost £790m “at a time when the public finances are already under extreme pressure”.

The strategy revisited the figures on food insecurity, and concluded that increasing the earnings threshold to £20k before benefits “would ensure that 82 per cent of children in households with very low food security (as defined by the government) – would be eligible for free school meals, and 70% of those with low food security.

Such an extension would mean 1.1 million more children would be eligible. However, even this modified ambition would be expensive. The average annual cost over three years would be £544m.

Stephanie Slater, Founder and Chief Executive, School Food Matters, said, “There is so much to be excited about in the National Food Strategy. Henry and his team have spent two years listening and learning from families to work out the best way to support them to live healthier lives.

'We wholeheartedly support this bold and ambitious strategy, particularly the recommendations to extend eligibility for free school meals, to commit to at least three years funding for the Holiday Food and Activities programme and to reframe food education as a subject worthy of the same attention as English and Maths.'

LACA said, “LACA welcome that the National Food Strategy shines a spotlight on the increasing number of children who are suffering from food inequality and we wholeheartedly support the recommendation on extending free school meals.

“We have long supported a whole school approach to food- with the dining hall as the hub of the school where children and teachers eat together- and we are pleased that the report recognises this.

“We agree that there should be additional funding to train school chefs and that their hard work should be better recognised. LACA have always championed the quality and service of our school chefs and we will continue to do so.”

(source: https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/, LACA, image: pexels)