New school food rules begin today but many still exempt

New school food rules begin today but many still exempt

All maintained schools and new academies must follow new school food standards starting from today – but existing academies can carry on as they are.

Under the new regulations, schools must provide at least one portion of vegetables as an accompaniment to each meal, plus one portion of fruit every day, and at least three different vegetables and three different fruits must be provided each week.

Milk will not be required solely at lunchtime, after concerns were raised during consultation, but schools will need to make it available at least once per day.

The Department for Education (DfE) said: “We have amended the legislation accordingly to require milk to be available during the main school day (so not including breakfast or after school clubs), at a time to be decided by the school.

Fruit juice will be limited to 150ml. The DfE said this will “limit children’s sugar intake”.

Schools which convert to academy status after today, and all new free schools, will have to comply with the regulations.

Academies and free schools set up between September 2010 and 2014 will not be required to comply with the regulations, but the government is asking these schools for voluntary commitment.

The DfE said in its report: “Rather than introduce cumbersome new legislation to introduce a post-dated clause [for existing academies], the School Food Plan’s authors are asking these academies to make a voluntary commitment to comply with the regulations. A number of academy chains have already made this commitment.”

Academies and free schools are asked to sign up to the commitment here: http://www.schoolfoodplan.com/school-food-standards/

Schools minister David Laws said: “These new food standards will ensure that nutritious, tasty meals can be enjoyed by all children that choose a school lunch.”

The new standard was launched by former education secretary Michael Gove last June. Previous standards, introduced in 2006, were branded by the DfE as “complicated and expensive to enforce” though it was said they had improved school food.

The Children’s Food Trust tested the revised standards at 35 schools and with 24 caterers in England. Their research showed that 90 per cent of school cooks and 80 per cent of caterers thought the revised standards were easier to understand than the previous set.

School food requirements