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The law on ... School lunches

Basic issues

Given current child obesity levels, it is important that children are educated on how to eat sensibly and healthily. Food that is provided to schools by their local authorities must, therefore, meet national nutrition standards. These standards are set to ensure that children are educated and introduced to a more balanced diet rather than the vending machine, tuck shop or fish and chips.

New standards were introduced in 2006 requiring the following:

  • High-quality meat, poultry or oily fish regularly available.
  • At least two portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal.
  • Bread, other cereals and potatoes regularly available.
    • There were also controls placed on the following foods:

      • Deep-fried food limited to no more than two portions per week.
      • Fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate and other confectioneries removed from school meals and vending machines.
        • The duty to provide free and paid-for lunches usually rests with the local authority. However, if the school's budget includes an amount for lunches and refreshments, it is the governors' responsibility to provide them.

          Certain families are eligible for free school lunches. Families that receive benefits will be entitled to receive free school lunches for their children.

          Schools also have a responsibility to ensure that children are educated about what they eat and to reinforce basic healthy eating principles. All schools can seek guidance from their local authorities on this issue.

          There is also guidance available to headteachers issued by the DCSF on the procurement of catering services at Teachers TV.

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