Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How might schools use the devolved grant for School Meal Improvement?

  • Contribute towards the start up costs of a school meal service
  • Meeting the costs of better ingredients
  • Funding catering staff training
  • Purchasing dining room and catering equipment
  • Installing water coolers
  • Funding healthier breakfast clubs and tuck shops
  • Working with parents to influence the content of packed lunches
  • Purchasing ‘salad carts’, milk bars etc to promote healthier eating and choices
  • Setting up school vegetable gardens

Can you confirm what the position is regarding older pupils and the nutritional standards in maintained schools?

The standards for school food apply to primary and secondary schools. They do not apply to 6th form colleges unless they are linked to a school. If a 6th form is linked to a school and they have their own catering facilities they still need to comply to the standards.

How will the nutritional standards be enforced?

The food standards will be mandatory, which means schools will have to comply legally. If they do not, anyone will be free to complain to the Secretary of State who can issue a direction to the school if necessary. In addition, Ofsted will be monitoring a school’s approach to healthier eating as part of their regular inspections of schools.

Where can I see the new nutritional standards?

The new standards are available here (PDF).

What schools are covered by the nutritional standards?

Primary, secondary, maintained special schools, maintained boarding schools, PRUs, and Academies. Maintained nurseries will be required to follow the existing ‘food based’ standards introduced in 2001.

Do packed lunches need to comply with the new nutritional standards?

Only free, or paid for school lunches will need to meet the standards.

What about cakes and biscuits?

Cakes and biscuits may only be served as a part of the lunch meal.

What about chocolate and other confectionery items?

Confectionery, chocolate and chocolate-coated products will not be available.

What is the difference between food-based and nutrient-based standards?

The food-based standards will help to change children’s eating habits by maximizing access to healthier foods and removing the availability of less healthy foods. The nutrient-based standards will build on these standards. They specify the levels of a number of nutrients that a school lunch should provide. This means that children will be eating more balanced meals at lunchtime.

What about special events? Do the new nutritional standards for school food apply?

The new standards for school food do not apply to special one-off functions such as discos or club parties, or fundraising events like school fetes. However, children need to receive consistent messages both at school and home.

Can oven chips be included in lunch menus?

Any product that uses a fat coating in the manufacturing process is classified as a ‘fried item’ and therefore counts as one of the two fried items per week.

We provide 'meal deals' at mid morning break for those children who participate in sporting (or other) activities at lunchtime. Can they include cakes?

'School lunch' is defined within the Education Act (2002) as meaning 'food made available for consumption by the pupil as his midday meal on a school day'. Where a school deems the food chosen by a pupil is to be consumed as their 'midday meal', the food would need to meet the lunchtime standards including, when introduced, the nutrient-based standards. We are aware that in an effort to reduce queues or to benefit those who attend lunchtime activities, some schools offer a form of pre-ordering/early pick-up service. This is usually a 'meal deal' which may contain a cake or biscuit, provided that cakes and biscuits are not offered as individual items at mid morning break.

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