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School meals: all schools need food rules

90% of parents want schools to meet food standards

School meals image

Parents want the same school meal nutrition standards that exist in state schools to apply to academies and free schools, according to a new survey.

92% of parents want nutritional standards to be overseen by an independent body to ensure that standards are met.

Join the Which? Conversation to let us know what you think about school dinners.

Why all schools need nutritional standards

Standards for food sold in English state schools have been in place since 2006 for primary schools and 2007 for secondary schools. But unlike state schools, academies and free schools don’t have to follow strict nutrition standards. This means that they are free to reinstall vending machines while their canteens can sell burgers and chips whenever they like.

Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies told us: ‘It’s essential that food in all schools is healthy and meets nutritional standards. Otherwise it undermines improvements in school food, as well as wider initiatives aimed at tackling obesity and poor diet.’

School meals plans

The government wants most secondary schools to become academies and has announced plans to review school food, saying there is still a lot to do to improve school dinners.

The school meals research, carried out by the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and the online dinner money company Parentppay, also reveals that 90% of parents were happy or very happy with the school meals service provided. 

More on this…

  • Join the Which? Future of Food Debate
  • Read our guide to making healthier school lunchboxes
  • Check out our campaign for clearer supermarket unit prices
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