Free schools and academies should follow nutritional guidelines, say parents

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The majority of parents want to see all schools, including academies and free schools, abide by a set of nutritional standards, according to a new poll.

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The survey by the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) in partnership with ParentPay, found that of the 12,000 parents they spoke to, 92 per cent want to see all schools abide by nutritional standards set by the Government.

Parents said they would also welcome the introduction of an independent body to monitor schools to ensure that standards are being met.

While state maintained schools are required to follow nutritional standards by law, academies and free school are expected by the Government to comply with them voluntarily.

Published to coincide with National Schools Meal Week 2012 (5-9 November), the poll also revealed that despite parents wanting all schools to be compliant with nutritional standards, awareness of whether their own child’s school currently abides by them was low.

Less than half (41 per cent) said they knew that their child’s school was meeting the nutritional standards and 57 per cent said they didn’t know.

Just over 90 per cent of parents were happy or very happy with their child’s school meals, compared to 89 per cent last year.

The majority said they felt that schools meals are still affordable, with 87 per cent stating that value for money was the main reason they bought them. The average cost of a school meal was found to be just £2.

Anne Bull, Local Authority Caterers Association national chair, said, ‘Over one thousand more parents took the time and trouble to respond to this year’s survey, compared to last year.

‘This increase gives a significant indication of the level of importance parents place on both their children’s health and well-being and the provision of healthy, nutritious food in their children’s schools.

She added, ‘Parents do not want to see support for their school catering services being undermined by any lack of financial or policy support.

‘They are sending out a clear message about their future expectations for school food provision. While much has been achieved as a result of the hard work of schools and caterers, additional measures to enhance this progress, would help children achieve their potential, both academically and physically.’

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