Fears over school meal standards as Children’s Food Trust loses funding

The Children’s Food Trust, which monitors quality of meals served in schools, will receive no government funding after March of this year. The organisation was originally called the School Food Trust and was set up after Jamie Oliver’s 2005 tv series about poor standards of food in many schools. This is from the Guardian…

Childhood nutrition campaigners have expressed alarm after the government confirmed it will cut off all funding to the Children’s Food Trust, the main organisation which monitors the quality of meals served in schools, in the next few weeks.

The Department for Education (DfE) told the trust in a letter that money would stop at the end of March. The trust will be invited to bid for government contracts but will otherwise be reliant on charging schools for advice or its own fundraising.

Set up as a quango, initially called the School Food Trust, in the wake of TV chef Jamie Oliver’s 2005 series about the poor standard of food served in many schools the trust was hived of as a private charity in 2011 and has long faced the prospect of being cut off financially. However, the confirmation has worried campaigners already alarmed that the government’s exemption of academies from school nutritional standards could see the gains of recent years reversed.

It was a Children’s Food Trust study last year which showed that many academies do not follow the guidelines, despite government assurances that they would. Last year the DfE set up an inquiry into school food, led by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, founders of the Leon chain of restaurants, an initiative dismissed by Oliver as a pointless waste of time.

The trust said it aims to continue advisory work with schools over improving the quality of meals and the number of pupils who eat them, although some may now face charges for this. However, it will have to abandon its annual survey of school meals, the only such national snapshot.

A trust spokesman said it had been planning for the end of DfE funding but warned that schools had “never been more in need of strong leadership and practical support for making sure every child can eat well”.

He added: “While the government’s review of school food continues, we’ve urged the department not to allow school food improvement work to slip back in the meantime, and this does remain a concern.”

Malcolm Clark from the Children’s Food Campaign said the decision was “really worrying”. He said: “It’s very important that parents and others get the information they need on school nutrition, and this is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Without something like the annual survey there’s not really going to be any proper national monitoring of standards. We always say that it only takes a term or two for nutritional levels to slip but it can take years to get them back again.”

More at:  Fears over school meal standards as children’s food charity loses funding

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