How important are school meals?

November 8, 2013

Research has found a clear connection between good nutrition and student achievement, and schools that provide healthy meals report fewer behavior problems. Recent research by the School Food Trust showed that school meals in England are now consistently more nutritious than packed lunches, giving the children who eat them a better foundation for good health. So the future seems bright for future generations, or does it?

Unfortunately, schools still need government money to provide good food and free schools and academies are currently exempt from the government’s nutritional guidelines. Childhood obesity has become a real problem in our society and we have yet to find an answer to quell a growing problem. The World Health Organisation identifies childhood obesity as a major health risk facing our planet.

The availability of nutritious school meals is not sufficient in its own right to ensure children adopt a lifelong commitment to a healthy balance diet. School policies and practices consistently need to make the healthy choice the easy and desirable one and all school staff should be role models for healthy eating habits. Students and families should also receive consistent messages about healthy eating, whether it’s in the classroom, the reception, the canteen, during sports fixtures or during assemblies.

Nick Clegg’s free school lunch announcement for 5-7 year-olds is very good news. However, In addition to the provision of nutritious food at lunch time, providing pupils and their families with high quality food education and ensuring a consistent message is delivered on a daily basis with regard to healthy eating and a healthy life-style, is essential.