First school menus get Trust’s stamp of approval
Thousands of school pupils will start 2015 enjoying meals from menus guaranteed to comply with the revised school food standards, thanks to the Children’s Food Trust’s new menu checking service.
â€‹The service gives schools and their caterers an easy way to make sure their food provision at lunch and at other times of the day such as breakfast and after school clubs are compliant with the new legal requirements, which come into force on 1 January. The Children’s Food Trust ‘menu checked’ logo can be used on the menus for up to 12 months and any revisions are checked throughout the year.
From the New Year, the menu used in Sefton Council’s 76 primary schools will display the logo to show parents, pupils and staff that they comply with the new standards. Around 11,000 meals a day are served to infant and junior children across the authority.
Colin Upton, School Meals and Catering Services Manager at Sefton Council said: “With the introduction of the new legal requirements, we want to ensure that our menus meet the new standards. We previously analysed our menus internally but thought it important to give schools and parents the reassurance that the food we provide is accredited by an outside body.”
West Sussex County Council used the service to approve menus produced for 11 special schools in the authority. “We wanted our menus to be accredited by a professional, well regarded organisation that was also involved in devising the new standards,” said John Figgins, Catering Services Manager.
“Our schools have a high number of vulnerable pupils with complex dietary issues. A big focus for the schools is that all meals should be of high quality and cater for a wide range of dietary requirements, while at the same time meeting all the new food-based standards. The accreditation process gives us that peace of mind.”
The service is also available to nursery caterers so that they can meet voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings established in 2012.
Children’s Food Trust nutritionist Laura Whiting said: “Our menu checking service gives schools, early years settings and their caterers confidence they are compliant with the national school food standards or voluntary early years guidelines, recommended healthier cooking practices and portion size guidance. This results in menus that provide the energy and nutrients children and young people need to grow and do well.
“Through the service our expert nutritionists help reassure schools and early years settings that they are meeting their legal obligations to provide healthy food to children in their care. The team uses their extensive experience of working with schools and early years settings and their caterers to check menus and recommend improvements and to support them in offering the best service possible.”
All local authority maintained schools and academies and free schools set up before 2010 and created from June 2014 onwards must meet the new food-based standards.
The Children’s Food Trust advised the expert panel on school food standards and pilot tested the new standards with schools and caterers before they were launched. The Trust also produced the voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings on behalf of the Department for Education.
The new standards arose out of the School Food Plan, an independent review which found that schools considered existing school food standards difficult to understand and use, particularly the nutritional analysis of recipes and menus.
The School Food Plan recommended that the government create a clearer set of food-based standards, accompanied by practical guidance that provided caterers with a framework on which to build interesting, creative and nutritionally-balanced menus. The standards also needed to be less time consuming and cheaper to implement than the existing standards.
The new standards are based on food groups rather than nutritional values and provide school caterers with a broad framework that will allow them to be more creative about the food they prepare. The emphasis is on the standards being accessible, easy to understand and, most importantly of all, easy to use.
More information about the Children’s Food Trust’s menu checking is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0114 299 6901. To find out more about the Children’s Food Trust visit www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk. Standards contained in the School Food Plan which are used as part of the menu checking process are available at www.schoolfoodplan.com/standards
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Notes to editors
About the Children’s Food Trust
The Children’s Food Trust protects every child’s right to nutritious food. The charity works in these core areas.
- The Trust’s work to improve school food has helped reverse decades of decline in school meal take up and drive up standards. As well as developing the current school food standards, the Trust was pivotal in developing the revised school food standards which launch in January 2015 The Trust provides a free, national advice service for schools and caterers offering practical solutions to providing universal infant free school meals.
- For children’s early years. The Trust produced the first national guidelines for food and drink in early years settings. Its Eat Better, Start Better programme, has trained more than 1,300 practitioners, delivered more than 1,500 healthy cooking sessions, and engaged over 12,700 parents and carers in how to provide healthy food for young children.
- The Trust’s Let’s Get Cooking programme comprises the nation’s biggest network of healthy cooking clubs (5,000), involving a diverse range of participants across hundreds of local communities. It has reached 3 million people, driving sustained behaviour changes with 58% of people saying they make healthier choices as a result of participating in Let’s Get Cooking.