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Why school food could get kids more involved

I have always been fascinated by food: where it comes from, what you can make it into, and what combinations make amazing flavours. From an early age I was always found in the kitchen with my mum, sat on top of the counter, watching magical concoctions transform into magnificent meals.

Over the past few years, there has been an influx in the use of sustainable British produce. Programmes like ‘Great British Food Revival’ have been set up to show people how to make the most of seasonal food that would otherwise be overlooked.

Minette Batters, deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union, said it should be a necessity to buy British produce for school meals, and food carrying the red tractor should be a minimum requirement.

I completely agree. Variety is vital in helping children to understand where their food comes from, to live healthy lives, and to concentrate in school. Eating healthily should not only be about counting calories, fat and carbohydrates; it should be about eating a balanced diet of food which is all sustainable, and learning how to produce and cook it.

The standards for school food in England have recently undergone a change, and schools are preparing for the new standards in January 2015. All schools are required to provide certain portions of each food group, and limit children’s intake of unhealthy food and drinks.

The Department for Education (DfE) links to the School Food Plan, which gives a user-friendly summary and guidance to implementing the new menus into schools. They say: “Use fresh, sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients (best of all, from the school vegetable garden) and talk to [children] about what they are eating.”

Children should be gaining knowledge and an interest in food that has been grown by them and not just thrown on a plate in front of them at an early age. So many children do not know what fruit, vegetables, meat or fish looks like before they are cut, cooked and served in a meal. Schools with access to land for a vegetable patch, or even kitchens can make this a problem of the past.

Food standards are crucial in helping children develop a healthier lifestyle and become interested in a varied diet. Too many people are stuck in a rut with their meals, and do not have the motivation or knowledge of different ingredients to be able to create their own. If our children helped to make meals and knew where their food came from, they would be motivated to cook instead of being more interested in fast food, which is so much more unhealthy and expensive.

These standards are one step closer to a healthier, more diverse and sustainable food journey, and I am all for it.

Check out our informative infographic on the new school food standards!

school-food-standards

See TheSchoolBus’s topic for school food standards here.

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