New academy schools being allowed to choose their own menus has been criticised by Jamie Oliver in a national paper today as he says it is damaging to the health of five million children and he is “mystified” by the decision.
It is assumed that schools will choose processed, high carbohydrate food that has much less nutritional value than Jamie Oliver’s school dinners provides in order to keep costs down. Just a few years ago many schools have stocked vending machines with fizzy drinks and sugary snacks whilst serving foods high in fat such as burgers, chicken nuggets and chips.
As semi-independent schools the academies do not have to adhere to the government’s strict guidelines that have been in place since 2008. Jamie Oliver is appealing to education secretary Michael Gove as he believe this is the wrong decision to make when the UK is facing an obesity crisis.
Speaking to parents of young teenagers they were asked to consider whether the menu that a prospective school served would influence their preferences when deciding with their children which school they wish to attend.
“It would depend on the standards of the alternative choices. There are a lot of factors to consider but the standard of food would certainly be one of them. Kids give into peer pressure so easily that I don’t think it would be long before my kids weren’t eating as healthily as I would like,” said one parent.
“There are two schools equi-distance from our house and both are very good, if one had a worse menu then I think I would wish my son to go to the other. It’s important that kids are educated about healthy eating but I don’t think they bother to put that knowledge into practice until they are much older and a relatively unhealthy menu every day is just too much temptation,” said one mother from Manchester.
Mr Gove has said that there is no reason not to believe that the academies will have balanced meals but due to the flexibility of the rules that the academies enjoy they are allowing them to set their own menus.
It seems that for academies it may be up to the parents to enforce the healthy eating if they wish.
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