Does Your School Food Pass The Test?
20 Jan 2021
Get the low-down on school food standards, and use our handy guide to find out if your school food fits the standard!
Did you know the Government has a set of rules for our schools, to make sure they give us quality, nutritious food?
They’re called the School Food Standards. And they cover everything from offering us plenty of different fruits and vegetables, to the importance of buying seasonal local produce. These Standards don’t just apply to lunches, but all our school food — including at breakfast and break times.
What’s the problem? Well, over half of secondary schools aren’t meeting them — even though, in most cases, they legally need to. If more of us, as well as our parents, teachers and school chefs, know about the Standards, then we can hold our schools to account.
Our Handy Guide
1. Why Do We Need School Food Standards?
We spend 190 days a year in school, so the food we eat there is incredibly important. According to research, if we eat healthily, we learn better. And if our schools follow the Standards, we’ll get all the energy and nutrition we need to keep us going all day
2. Helping Us Get Five-a-Day
We all know fruit and veg are good for our health – but they also add flavour and colour to our meals so they’re tastier and more interesting. Everybody wins. According to the Standards, we should all get one or more portions of vegetables or salad as a side at school – every single day. And at least one portion of fruit every day too.
3. Giving Us More Variety
Every week there should be at least three different fruits and three different vegetables on your school menu. And a non-dairy vegetarian option at least three times a week.
4. Ditching the Junk Food
More fruit and veg is a great start. But the Standards also help us limit how much salt, fat and sugar we get each week. This protects us from future health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes, and helps us avoid health issues when we’re older too.
In practice, this means:
- Deep-fried food no more than twice a week
- No sweets or chocolate,
- Processed meat, like sausages, no more than twice a week
5. Keeping Us Well Hydrated
We shouldn’t need to spend money to stay hydrated at school. There should be free, fresh drinking water available to us at all times.
6. Binning Those Sugary Drinks
Fruit or vegetable juice is okay, but it’s still high in sugar so should only come in small bottles – no bigger than 150ml. Energy drinks and other soft drinks are not allowed at all. Many schools are going one step further, declaring themselves water-only, or installing more water fountains and giving out free reusable bottles to students.
7. Making Healthy Food Affordable
We should never have to pass on a healthy option because it costs too much. According to the Standards, a portion of fruit should always be cheaper than a hot or cold dessert.
8. Providing Better Snack Options
Rather than filling up on pre-packaged chocolate, cereal bars or crisps, the Standards say we should have options like fruit, veg, seeds or nuts as a snack at school.