Children ‘still shunning school dinners’, figures showOwen Gyles on July 5, 2011 | No Comments »
More than half of primary pupils and almost two-thirds of those in secondary education continue to reject healthy menus introduced after the TV chef exposed the poor state of school lunches, it was revealed.
Official figures showed an average of 44.1 per cent of children in English primary schools and 37.6 per cent of those in secondaries opted for school meals this year.
But officials insisted attitudes towards healthy meals were improving following an initial backlash against a ban fatty food and salty snacks.
According to data, the take-up has increased over the last 12 months, rising by 2.7 percentage points among under-11s and 1.8 percentage points for older pupils.
The School Food Trust, which published the data, said more than 3m pupils were now eating canteen food – an increase of around 173,000 in 12 months.
Numbers are up despite a three per cent rise in the cost of meals, it was revealed. The average school dinner now costs £1.93.
Rob Rees, the trust’s chairman, said: “If we’re going to keep school meal numbers rising, we have to keep healthy school meals affordable.
“That means helping schools to grow their market, to get the best deals for their food supplies and services, to protect their kitchens and dining rooms and to operate their catering services efficiently.
“With more children registering for free school meals, we’ve also got to make sure that we continue to encourage more children to take them up.
“At a time when funding is so tight everywhere, good school food is a solid investment in children’s learning and health.”