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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 17:31 GMT
Oliver: school food change 'slow'
Jamie Oliver with Tony Blair
Oliver said pledges made when he met Tony Blair are unfulfilled
TV chef and school food campaigner Jamie Oliver has accused the government of failing to honour its promises on healthier school dinners.

He told Channel Four the reforms were "slow, painful, un-strategic, unmethodical" and inadequately funded.

Rules to make school meals more healthy have been introduced, but the number of children taking them has fallen.

The government said all the issues were being addressed, with millions being spent in the next few years.

Jamie Oliver said the problem did not lie in the healthier meals.

He said nothing had been done in terms of "love, care, strategy and most importantly training of our girls" - meaning school catering staff.

Million more

He said former prime minister Tony Blair had promised to create a fund that would rebuild kitchens that were falling down or create them in schools that had none.

"Haven't seen that either," he said.

The School Food Trust was set up in 2005 with 15m from the then Department for Education and Skills to promote youngsters' education and health by improving the quality of food in schools.

Last week it renewed its efforts to get the message across, calling on head teachers and parents to help get another million children in England eating school food each day, up from the present 3.2 million.

But Oliver said the trust did not have enough money "and we're not training the dinner ladies quickly enough".

He added: "I think it's going to dribble on for another three years and will take 10 years to turn around."

Banished

Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said all the issues were being addressed.

"Junk food has already been banished forever from lunches and vending machines.

"There will be almost 500m ring-fenced investment by 2011 to raise nutritional standards, keep dinner prices down and improve overall take-up."

Much better training was already in place for "dinner ladies" and 20 training centres were due to open across England next year at a cost of 2m.

"That's double the funding Jamie Oliver said was needed," Mr Brennan said.

"And we're investing an additional 150m funding over the next three years for schools with no kitchens, so they can provide hot, fresh meals on site.

"That's on top of our multi-billion pound national programmes to rebuild or refurbish all secondary and half of primary schools, with new kitchens a top priority."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Education Secretary on importance of school dinners



SEE ALSO
Food champ targets pocket money
16 Oct 07 |  Education
School dinners campaign heats up
12 Oct 07 |  Education
Schools told to end meals decline
02 Oct 07 |  Education
Pupils 'shunning healthier meals'
03 Sep 07 |  Education
'Fewer pupils' take school meals
06 Nov 06 |  Education
Pupils 'benefit from free fruit'
08 Aug 07 |  Education

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