School food standards still not being met

24 November 2021
A new report from our friends at BiteBack2030 features young people’s thoughts on school food.

BiteBack has launched its latest youth insights project. Spill The Beans is a report featuring students’ voices on the school food standards.

The school food standards were introduced in 2014 and are compulsory for all state-funded schools. However, there is no mechanism for quality assurance or accountability to support schools in meeting them. As a result, children reported their schools being awash with sweets, fried foods and processed meats, all of which are restricted by the standards. Break times were also identified as being flooded with unhealthy snacks such as doughnuts, again out of line with the standards.

Good nutrition should not depend on where children live, or what their parents’ income is. Unfortunately, we are seeing health inequalities increasing between children from the most and least affluent backgrounds. Spill The Beans reveals how school food is reinforcing this unfair divide. Those with a free school meal allowance sometimes find it comes with limitations on what they can choose to eat, combined with the fact that healthier options are often more expensive and kept out of promotional deals. Free drinking water is also not consistently available, meaning some children have to buy bottled water or worse, unhealthy drinks.

One 13-year-old thinks there should be a review of their school food, and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why we too are calling for a review, by the Government of school food across the nation. Such a review must consider both updating the standards and introducing rigorous quality assurance mechanisms. 

The full report can be found here.