Merton Children Enjoy Their School Meals

Number of pupils taking school meals is on the rise

Children in Merton have been eating more school meals, with new figures showing nearly half of secondary school pupils in the borough were eating them in 2010.

Figures released from the School Food Trust and LACA Annual survey have seen the take up rise by 25.4% in the last year to 46.9% in 2010 in secondary schools, and also rise 5.7% to 35.2% in primary schools.

The secondary school figures were higher than the national average for England, with statistics showing the proportion of secondary school children eating a school linch was 35.8.%. The national average in primary schools was 41.4%.

A cashless payment method was introduced in Merton secondary schools in the past year.

The Schools Nutritionist has also been working with secondary schools in the borough with a focus on improving the dining environment, menus and whole experience, particularly for the year seven intake. As more children are taking up school meals in primary schools, a larger number are continuing this through their school life.

Merton council has been working with schools and the campaigning group, Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools, to encourage children and parents to try a quality school lunch and ensure they are accessible to as many families as possible.

School caterers ISS Education who provide the meals in Merton, hold the Bronze Food for Life Catering Mark, demonstrating their meals are fresh, seasonal, locally sourced and that children and parents are involved in the dining experience. Merton Council also holds a Red Tractor plaque to show its commitment to serving meat reared to a high standard and all poultry is Freedom Food accredited.

Rob Rees, the School Food Trust’s Chair, said: "The number of children eating school meals had been on a downward spiral for many years when Jamie Oliver brought the issue into the nation’s living room, leading to even more children and parents turning their backs on canteens.

"Now, following the introduction of national standards for meals and the hard work to improve the dining room experience for children, this is being reversed – disproving the myth that children simply don’t want to eat healthy food."

July 21, 2010