Healthy appetite for change

15th July 2005 at 01:00
ast Renfrewshire is probably not the first authority that springs to mind as the place for launching an anti-poverty drive (page three). But, as it never tires of telling the world, it is not just dotted by leafy suburbs.

If the amount of regeneration funding it receives from the Scottish Executive is any guide, there are 12 authorities better off. Although the national figure for primary pupils entitled to free school meals is 21 per cent, East Renfrewshire's 9 per cent suggests no small measure of need.

The council is therefore to be congratulated on being the first authority to offer free school meals during the holidays, for the very reason that it is so advantaged compared to others. Holidays can be a testing time for many households with young children, but particularly for those mired in deprivation.

It is also worthy of praise that the council is not just handing out food parcels. This is about broadening children's appetites in more ways than one - introducing them to foods from other nations and linking this to an activities programme. Other authorities will surely follow.

But the task facing authorities now is to study the research findings from Edinburgh University and really involve pupils in how and what they eat in school. It should not have needed this research to state the obvious - that children's attitudes to eating are not the same as those of adults.

Consulting youngsters may well be the essential ingredient required to make the Hungry for Success healthy eating initiative a success.

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