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Department for Education calls for healthier choices in schools

An MP from the Department for Education has written a letter urging headteachers to prioritise healthy school meals. Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, wants to ensure pupils enjoy healthy food every day and develop healthy eating habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.

The letter correctly highlights the importance of a ‘positive lunchtime experience’ and emphasizes that free drinking water should be available for everyone, both points which are essential under the Food for Life Awards criteria.

Food for Life schools provide Better Lunchtimes and give pupils a say in how they can improve their lunch hours and make sure it’s seen as an important and enjoyable part of the school day.  

For example, pupils are asked to help redesign and name their school dining rooms, giving them a fresh look and identity, creating a dining environment that is welcoming and enjoyable. School cooks and caterers liaise with pupils working in the school gardens, together with planning what to grow and what can be used in the school meals.

In the letter, Nadhim Zahawi encourages headteachers to use resources from the School Food Plan and Public Health England, and includes a link to the School Food Standards which are mandatory in every school. Schools with a Food for Life award automatically meet and exceed the requirements outlined by the School Food Standards. 

Hattie Shephard, Policy Officer, Food and Health, said, “Food for Life welcomes Mr Zahawi’s comments but the Government needs to do more to directly support and incentivise schools to deliver a whole school approach to healthy eating. The introduction of a Healthy Schools Rating Scheme would provide this and ensure that all schools are delivering against the School Food Standards. 

Food for Life schools across the UK are already demonstrating best practice around school food, as well as offering wider food education opportunities for their pupils. If the Government is serious about ensuring that all children can enjoy healthy food every day then the long overdue Healthy Schools Rating Scheme must be introduced now.” 

Find out more about how a Food for Life award can help your school prioritise healthy eating, or get in touch with us on