Celeb chef blames parents over meals

A top Norfolk chef has blamed parents for the poor eating habits of children after the new healthy school dinners scheme failed to taste success.

A top Norfolk chef has blamed parents for the poor eating habits of children after the new healthy school dinners scheme failed to taste success.

Since new standards were introduced last month, laying down rules and regulations as to what can and cannot go into school meals, there has been a dramatic 22pc drop in the number of pupils eating them.

And yesterday, while showcasing a selection of delights from the new healthier menu to pupils at his Michelin star restaurant, Morston Hall, Galton Blackiston said it was the parents holding children back from trying the new options.

"I work closely with a lot of schools, going around and educating pupils about how to make fresh, healthy food and how good it can taste.

"When I'm there I always make a few things like fish fingers with fresh fish, tomato sauce and bread rolls - all from scratch. The kids are always up for eating it because when you explain all about it, they're interested.

"But then parents sit at the back of the class and tell their child not to try things because they won't like it. It's that kind of attitude that prevents children from having the opportunity to eat healthily. How will they know they don't like something unless they try it?

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"I've got children and I know it's easier to give them what they want than what's better for them, but they're not old enough to know what's best for them."

Since the clampdown began after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver campaigned for changes, there have been pictures of parents selling junk food in the playground as well as pushing chips and burgers through railings.

Brian Dow, spokesman for the School Food Trust, said: "Changing a long- standing culture like this is going to be a long battle; it won't happen overnight.

"But in schools where we've liaised with parents, staff and pupils, everyone is much more receptive to the changes.

"We've found it's best to educate the parents as well as the child, because if they're not on board, the child won't eat the healthier options.

"In Italy and France the children eat much healthier dinners than here and we need to get up to speed.

"In the long term, these new changes will help tackle obesity and health problems related to it like diabetes."

The new requirements mean that chocolate, crisps and chips have been replaced in favour of fruit, fish and fresh water, and meals cannot contain more than two deep-fried foods a

week.

For more information about the changes and recipes from the menus, visit www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk