Thank you for contacting me about school food and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.
All children should be able to enjoy healthy food at school every day and develop healthy eating habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.
Schools Food Standards provide a legislative framework to ensure maintained schools provide children with healthy food and drink options, and to make sure that children get the energy and nutrition they need across the school day.
The standards allow school cooks more creative freedom to adapt to the preferences of the children at their school, source seasonal or local food, take advantage of price fluctuations, or create dishes that suit their particular talents, which they can be confident are also nutritionally sound. Parents will also more easily be able to know if the food served to their children meets the standards.
The standards state that schools must provide fruit and vegetables every day, at least three different types each week, and no more than two portions of deep-fried food a week. For several types of food, such as salt, fruit juice and starchy food cooked in oil, the standards are tighter. In trials, the standards proved extremely popular with school cooks, 90 per cent of whom said they were easier to implement than the old standards.
Schools must also provide access on their premises, at all times, to free drinking water. I would encourage schools to consider whether they are doing all they can to make free water visible and easily available.
Finally, I welcome that the funds for the National School Breakfast (NSB) Programme and other successful programmes have come from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. This demonstrates how these funds have been used, as was intended, to invest in improving children’s health and providing them with healthy food. The soft drinks industry levy has undoubtedly been a success, with the latest statistics showing the sugar content of soft drinks dropping by 44 per cent. The sugar content in breakfast cereals, yoghurt and fromage frais has also dropped.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.
Sally-Ann Hart MP