School Food Standards: The Latest
School Foods Standards Background:
The School Food Standards came into force in 2015, however since then there has been no formal process in place to check and measure compliance. The standards are mandatory in maintained schools, new academies, and free schools. Independent schools do not have to comply but are encouraged to follow the standards.
The new pilot was announced last year as part of the Levelling Up White Paper. The pilot aims to design and test a new approach in supporting schools to comply with the existing School Food Standards. The pilot will involve adding nutrition-focused questions and observations to the routine inspections carried out by local authority food safety officers, to promote compliance with School Food Standards.
The pilot will run throughout the school year until July 2023, and whilst the final results won’t be published, the research will be used to inform decisions around the role of local authorities in monitoring compliance going forward.
Whilst it is certainly good to see the government are looking to monitor compliance of the standards, many schools are really struggling financially to provide meals with the significant increase in food prices, meaning meeting the standards will be more challenging.
In addition, with the standards coming into force over seven years ago, some of the recommendations are now out of date, for example SCAN have published the Carbohydrate and Health report, which has lowered recommendations of sugar intake and a huge area which is only mentioned in these standards is the issue around sustainability. Given our current climate targets this really needs to be addressed urgently and should be incorporated throughout all the standards.
In the meantime, assessing schools’ compliance is a big positive step forward, and we look forward to seeing compliance to the standards being assessed routinely in the future.
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