Elinor Davies was aksed to cover the controversial topic of school dinners part of her investigative journalism topic during work experience at Rydal Penrhos' marketing department, where she has been getting a crash course in the profession from Communications Assistant Dean Jones.
Her report is below:
When Jeremy Corbyn proposed to add VAT to the lunches of private school children, he opened the same can of worms as Jamie Oliver 12 years ago.
Only this time, not only raising the question of the healthiness of school meals but how this food was to be financed.
Presently, the guidelines given to schools concerning meals are as follows: ‘Every school must provide, high quality meat, poultry or oily fish, fruit, vegetables and bread, other cereals and potatoes’ and must not include ‘meals containing drinks with added sugar, crisps, chocolate or sweets in meals or vending machines’.
To me, this sounds terribly woolly - guidelines rather than rules. Consequently, many school lunches are not catering for the nutritional needs of their pupils.
Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners campaign seemed revolutionary; eliminating fizzy drinks and processed food from many school canteens.
Now, however, he admits his campaign did not work.
Whilst many schools jumped on the healthy eating bandwagon, the less affluent did not, as, according to Oliver: “In Britain, eating well and feeding your kid right and being aware about food is all considered very posh and middle class, but the reality is that in most of Europe some of the best food comes from the poorest communities.”
So why are the poorer schools in Britain still not eating healthily?
The simple fact is that healthy food costs more. Fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are nutritious and we are advised to eat many of these foods for a healthy diet but, sadly, they are also some of the most expensive foods.
Whilst school meals still have progress to be made, they are often more nutritious than those brought in by pupils.
According to The Independent, 85 per cent of primary school pupils eat the meals provided by their school. This is a positive figure, but let’s not forget about the other 15% of the school population who are eating their own, perhaps nutritionally unsound, lunch.
In order to make this statistic as close to 100% as possible, the price of state school lunches need to be brought down in order to include the poorer areas of society.
This is where Corbyn comes in, with his proposal to tax the school meals of private schools, he hopes to secure free school meals for all pupils.
This, if I dare say, is a good idea. Getting children to eat more healthily has benefits for not only themselves, but for society as a whole.
An article from the Guardian, said: “Teachers say pupils who eat school lunches concentrate better and are less disruptive in the afternoon than those who have consumed food high in sugar or fat, such as chips or sweets.”
This is all well for the success of pupils and their ability to sit in double physics after lunch without throwing something. But on a far more selfish note, a healthier young generation will ease the demand on the NHS.
The cost to the NHS of obesity and illnesses related to poor diet totals £16billion (according to The Telegraph). This is a staggering figure that needs addressing.
If children were to develop good eating habits whilst at school, they are less likely to become obese in their adulthood and, consequently, not strain the limited funds of the NHS.