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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March 2005, 14:28 GMT
School dinners 'gimmick' denied
Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver's programme highlighted the issue
The government has denied "jumping on the Jamie Oliver bandwagon" in pledging to make school meals healthier and crack down on junk food advertising.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said she took action on "day one" of the job, as she pledged cash for kitchens and to enforce minimum nutritional standards.

Labour's "mini-manifesto" for children comes after TV show Jamie's School Dinners showed how poor meals were.

The Lib Dems and the Tories accused the Labour of a gimmicky election stunt.

Quite frankly I don't see how Greenwich ever thought they could do it on 37 pence
Ruth Kelly
Education secretary

Speaking at the launch of Labour's plans for children, Ms Kelly said she had told her departmental civil servants that she wanted to "do something to raise the standards of school meals" on her first day in office.

She also said she thought it would be very difficult to produce a decent school meal for 37 pence - the amount which the TV chef discovered a school in Greenwich was spending on producing a single school meal.

"Quite frankly I don't see how Greenwich thought they could ever do it on 37 pence," she said.

Schools and local authorities, who set their own budgets and decide what they spend on school meals, would be expected to look at the issue carefully, she added.

"Our commitment today is that a third Labour term will make additional resources available to rebuild and build new kitchens and dining areas."

Parents, teachers and governors are calling for more fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, locally sourced and even organic produce
Scolarest, schools caterer

From September minimum standards for fat, sugar and salt content in school meals would be enforced, and meals services would be inspected by the Office for Standards in Education.

Ministers are also seeking a voluntary agreement to stop junk food advertising at times when children watch the television.

If that did not work, a third Labour term would legislate to enforce it issuing fixed penalty notices to firms which broke the rules.

School meals
The government wants tougher nutritional standards for schools

Shadow education secretary Tim Collins said "genuine solutions" not "pre-election gimmicks" were needed, adding that that a Tory announcement on the issue was coming soon.

"Conservatives would ensure we have more money given to the front-line and allow schools the freedom and resources they need to offer more nutritious meals."

Lib Dem education spokesman Phil Willis said the plans were a "cheap election stunt" to "hide the fact that for eight years under [Tony Blair's] stewardship, our children have been eating the most appalling food".

The Soil Association, which represents organic growers, also said the government had "dragged its feet" and pointed to the stricter regulations already introduced in Scotland.

Plans in the mini-manifesto also include dealing with tobacco sales, tackling internet porn access and more protection from paedophiles.

It also outlined plans for a new 20m Parenting Fund for parents of children going from primary to secondary school to try reduce bad behaviour in schools and truancy.


SEE ALSO
Blair supports TV chef's campaign
20 Mar 05 |  Education
Oliver meals crusade 'needs cash'
22 Feb 05 |  Education
TV chef Oliver returns to school
21 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
Television chefs' dough on rise
17 Jun 04 |  Education

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