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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 13:01 GMT
Prue Leith gets school meals post
Prue Leith
Prue Leith: mission to change attitudes
The cook, restaurateur and food writer Prue Leith is to be the new head of the government's programme to improve school meals in England.

She will take over in January as chair of the School Food Trust, whose remit includes promoting children's health.

"This is the most important job I have ever had," Ms Leith said.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson said her business acumen, high profile and passion for changing public attitudes to food made her outstanding.

Ms Leith said it was essential to convince young people, parents, teachers and caterers of the importance of good food, if children were to grow up healthy and energetic.

Changing attitudes

"It is crucial we equip pupils with the practical skills and knowledge to help them learn at school and make the right choices during the rest of their lives," she said.

"I believe we can really change attitudes through the trust's mission to help schools teach every pupil about food and nutrition and to give them cooking lessons."

In May Ms Leith told a conference that, if she had her way, children would be offered less choice on school menus.

"The problem with a range of food in a cafeteria is that it's impossible to make every day different and interesting," she said.

Earlier this week a BBC News survey indicated a fall in the consumption of school meals this term, following the introduction of healthier menus.

The trust's chief executive, Judy Hargadon, said that was not a surprise.

"Experience has shown that schools who previously transformed their food service faced a short-term dip in numbers which then improved once the changes had bedded in," she said.

But the trust was not complacent about the challenges ahead.

The Department for Education and Skills said Prue Leith's appointment to the 15,000-a-year post followed an open competition.

Among her other commitments she chairs the Focus on Food Campaign, a charity working in schools to help the teaching of cooking.




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