The Department for Education has recently published updated guidance on the standards for school food in England. Here’s what GovernorHelp thinks you need to know…
As a school governor, it is important to understand the standards for school food in England. The Department for Education has published guidance on this topic, which outlines the requirements for school lunches, food and drink provided on school premises, and the responsibilities of governing bodies. In this blog post, we will cover the key points of this guidance and explain how it relates to school governors and governance.
1. Compliance with School Food Regulations 2014
All maintained schools, academies, and free schools must comply with the requirements for School Food Regulations 2014. These regulations ensure that food provided to pupils in school is nutritious and of high quality, promotes good nutritional health in all pupils, protects those who are nutritionally vulnerable, and promotes good eating behavior. As a school governor, it is your responsibility to ensure that your school is complying with these regulations.
2. Roles and Responsibilities of Governors
Governing bodies are responsible for ensuring that the national school food standards are met in England. This includes evaluating the food and drink provision against the standards, coordinating catering services across all school food and drink outlets, and ensuring compliance with the school food standards. As a governor, you should work with the senior leadership team to develop a whole school food policy, including setting out the school’s approach to its provision of food, food education, the role of the catering team as part of the wider school team, and the school’s strategy to increase the take-up of school lunches.
3. School Lunches and Other Food and Drink
The regulations set out the requirements for school lunches provided to registered pupils, whether on the school premises or not, and to any other person on the school premises. The regulations also set out the requirements for food and drink other than lunch, provided to pupils on school premises up to 6pm, including breakfast clubs, tuck shops, mid-morning break, vending, and after school clubs. Schools should make reasonable adjustments for pupils with particular requirements, for example, to reflect medical, dietary, and cultural needs.
4. Free School Meals and Milk
From September 2014, every child in reception, year 1, and year 2 in state-funded schools is entitled to a free school lunch. School governing bodies must provide school meals to a pupil free of charge if the pupil and/or a parent meets eligibility criteria set out within s.512ZB of the Education Act 1996 and a request is received for free meals to be provided either by the pupil or someone acting on their behalf. Drinking water must be provided free of charge at all times on school premises. Milk must be provided free of charge to infant and benefits-based free school meals pupils when it is offered as part of their school meal and free to benefits-based free school meals pupils at all other times. Charges can be made for all other pupils.
5. Exemptions to the School Food Regulations
The School Food Regulations do not apply to food provided at parties or celebrations to mark religious or cultural occasions, at fundraising events, as rewards for achievement, good behavior, or effort, for use in teaching food preparation and cookery skills, including where the food prepared is served to pupils as part of a school lunch, or on an occasional basis by parents or pupils. The requirements in the School Food Regulations do not apply to confectionery, snacks, cakes, or biscuits, served as part of an evening meal at maintained boarding schools before 6pm. For maintained nurseries and nursery units attached to primary schools, there is a reduced set of standards for food served at lunchtime (Schedule 5), and whole milk, rather than lower fat milk, may be provided.
As a school governor, it is important to understand the standards for school food in England and ensure that your school is complying with these regulations. You should work with the senior leadership team to develop a whole school food policy, coordinate catering services across all school food and drink outlets, and ensure compliance with the school food standards. By doing so, you can help promote healthy eating, good nutritional health, and good eating behavior in all pupils.
You can view the official guidance from the DfE here