You’ve Had Your Chips: Fattening Food Banned From School Canteens

Starting this month, secondary schools in the UK will ban chocolate, crisps, and sugary drinks from canteens to address childhood obesity. These new nutritional standards, previously in effect in primary schools, mandate every school lunch has at least one serving of vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit. Canteen foods must now have a minimum level of iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamins, as well as meet rigorous calorie and fat, saturated fat, and sugar level requirements. Salt will be removed from canteen tables, and drinks will only include water, low-fat milk, and juice. Reduced-fat spreads are to be offered instead of butter, spread thinly. Breaded fish, spicy fajitas, yoghurt, and some cakes meet the new standards. This move comes after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s campaign to improve school lunch quality and taste.

Meanwhile, many ministers receive criticism for the two deprived regions’ free lunches for Primary School students. However, from this month, all Year 3 and 4 students in Newham and Durham will receive free lunches as part of a £40m, two-year trial to improve behaviour, health, and academic performance, as well as their eating habits. Currently, free school meals are only available to annual income homes of less than £16,040, which makes up only about 15.9% of primary pupils and 13.1% of secondary pupils. Providing free school meals to all primary school children in England would cost £1bn.

The Soil Association, a charity supporting organic farming, argued the government should focus on providing free meals to all children below the poverty line instead of pupils in just two areas. The charity stressed the importance of well-equipped school canteens and sufficient capacity and working hours in the kitchen if universal free school meals are to be made possible. The Conservatives’ survey of local authorities showed that three in ten schools lacked proper kitchens. Opposition MPs argued that ministers could not afford to provide free school meals to all children.

The UK Secretary of School, Ed Balls, emphasised that providing nutritious meals from a young age is essential in improving children’s behaviour and preventing obesity. He touted these pilots’ significance, stating that healthy school meals are vital in ensuring that children fare well at school. The government aims to encourage teenagers to have a healthier diet and not just rely on takeaways rather than their school’s canteen. Last week, the School Food Trust’s survey found that 20% of low-income families in England were not checking if their children were eligible for free school meals, worth £700 annually.


  • baileywilliams

    Bailey Williams is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog as a way to share her insights and knowledge with her readers. She has been teaching for over 10 years and has a deep understanding of the school system and how to help students reach their goals. Her blog is packed full of helpful information and resources, so be sure to check it out if you're looking for help with your schoolwork!