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30/11/2012 11:13:00


As you may know, Michael Gove asked the Dimblebys from Leon restaurant chain to draw up another school food plan. Whether you consider this a stalling tactic on his part or a valid process, we should still contribute. They can only use the information which is out there to format their plan, whether it is research evidence or us telling them our opinions. We can't complain about the outcome if we don't participate.

The School Food Trust have set up an email feed in programme so that you can more easily add your opinion to the plan by going to

There is an auto email if you literally only have 30 secs to write your name and address and press send, or you can write what you feel if you have 2 minutes.

Here's what I wrote in mine.

Dear Henry, John and the School Food Plan team,

I work with schools and daycare settings on their growing and cooking and can see the fantastic impact it has. I would be very grateful if you would look at the evidence supporting those schemes and how they change children's attitudes to food, and give them due consideration in the Plan.

However I am most concerned about the slippage on the school nutritional standards and the fact that academies and other non LA schools like free schools are not included. Since they represent half of all schools it makes a mockery of calling them national standards. We can grow food and cook it with children til the cows come home, but if we then sit them down to an unhealthy meal sanctioned and prepared by us, the messages we are giving are so mixed as to be utterly redundant.

The defence that there is no reason to think that schools not under the standards will provide poorer food is naive at best and wilfully negligent at worst. The only evidence we have so far on this subject shows that food standards in academies are slipping, particularly with regard to the availabililty of junk snacks.

My husband is a secondary Deputy Head. Half his kids arrive at school with their breakfast in their hands, which is usually a box of pringles and a lucozade sport. I'm not kidding. Every day. Their behaviour when this hits their system and again when they come down from it is measurably affected. Those who eat good food on site at lunch learn well in the afternoon, those who eat crap or go off site for junk food may as well not be there for afternoon lessons as far as their concentration goes. It's not rocket science and the evidence linking learning and food is available in spades.

We can't control what they eat outside of school or at home, but we can as a nation decide that the food they eat while officially in our care should nourish them and help them learn, not damage them. There is a difference between nannying and just saying "You can choose, but what we're offering for you to choose from is all good things, because it's irresponsible to offer you a choice that is bad for you when you're in our care."

Please recommend extending the food standards to academy and free schools. The taxpayer is paying for those schools one way or the other. The taxpayer also pays for the fallout of kids being unable to learn properly, and the health consequences of poor eating. What idiot would pay to make a problem and then pay again to fix it?

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Joanne Roach

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