December 10 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 16, 2013
A government advisor on school meals said Norfolk is the perfect place to lead the way in his ambitious plans to encourage children to eat more healthily.
John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, co-founders of the Leon restaurant chain, in London, have been asked by education secretary Michael Gove to produce a report making recommendations on how to improve healthy eating in schools.
Mr Vincent attended the official opening of the Brecks Food and Drink Festival as a special guest of South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss on Friday night.
He said: “I have come to this festival because I have read so many great things about it and I think it is an excellent example of promoting local produce in a positive way.
“I’m excited to be here and to learn more about the festival. This will form part of my research into promoting local produce.”
Mr Vincent’s school food plan is based around dramatically increasing the number of children who eat school dinners as opposed to packed lunches.
He said: “At the moment only about 40pc of pupils across the country eat school dinners. I want to see that increase to 80pc.
“Most packed lunch boxes will contain sandwiches, a packet of crisps, a fizzy drink, a chocolate bar and an apple that stays in the lunch box for three or four days and then gets thrown away.
“If more children eat school dinners, the schools will have more money to spend on ingredients and will be able to secure better deals from the suppliers.
“They should be able to source food from local farms and suppliers and work closely with them.
“In a rich farming county like Norfolk there should be absolutely no need to bring in food made in factories far far away.
“The challenge is to make school dinners the more appealing option by improving children’s relationship with food and lot will be down to strong leadership from head teachers.”
Mr Vincent endorses plans set out in a recent review of the National Curriculum to introduce compulsory cookery classes for all seven- to 14-year-olds to improve understanding of nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet.
He said: “Children understanding more about where food comes from and getting out their and growing their own vegetables is so important.
“I think Norfolk is a great place to start implementing these plans, with its rich farming heritage and with great events like the Brecks Food and Drink Festival promoting local produce in such a good way.
“Elizabeth Truss has also shown a great deal of interest in helping to move things forward, so it is looking good.”
The EDP reported last week how families in Norfolk are to see no increase in the price of school meals for the second year in a row.
Children who have just returned to school will get their lunches for £2.10 – a price that has remained the same since 2011.
Norfolk County Council, and its partner Norse Group, made the decision not to increase the price despite a 2pc increase in operating costs.
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.