Providing good food in schools... How to do it with, or without, local authority help

This report provides information and recommendations to schools and local authorities about economically viable ways of providing good quality food. Though most relevant to London boroughs and schools, this report may also be helpful to local authorities and schools across England.


This report provides information and recommendations to schools and local authorities about economically viable ways of providing good quality food. Though most relevant to London boroughs and schools, this report may also be helpful to local authorities and schools across England that are grappling with similar issues.

The report offers guidance to London local authorities that are
considering withdrawing some or all of the support services they provide for school meals in their borough. We also provide guidance for London schools that have lost support from their local authority for school meals or are considering opting out – or have already opted out – of this local authority service.

The work was funded by the Greater London Authority as part of the Good Food on the Public Plate project (www.gfpp.org.uk). As a result of research and experience of applying healthy and sustainable food principles in practice, working with London's schools and local authorities, we recommend that local authorities:

  • maintain their support for school meal catering services to avoid schools having to grapple with the complexities and pitfalls of each having to ensure their own good quality meals.
  • invest on behalf of their schools in the Food for Life programme to improve food quality, sustainability and school meal uptake.
  • offer expert advice and guidance even if they withdraw their comprehensive catering services.

We recommend that schools:

  • campaign to retain their local authority support, unless they are confident that their school food services will be better without it.
  • implement a healthy and sustainable food policy (see www.gfpp.org.uk for examples).
  • seek impartial expert advice – preferably via recommendation – if they either opt out of their local authority support, or have it withdrawn.
  • negotiate improved health and sustainability standards with current or new suppliers and / or explore joining a buying group to improve their purchasing power (see www.gfpp.org.uk for a link to the joint contract run by the London Borough of Havering).

Report contents

Summary

Part 1: Rationale, Recommendations and Guidance

  • How school meals contribute to children’s future
  • Healthy school food at risk
  • Why are local authority services for school meals important?
  • Recommendations for local authorities and schools
  • Local authorities
  • Schools with local authority support
  • Schools without local authority support
  • What guidance is available to local authorities and schools?
  • Publicly available guidance
  • Private consultancy services
  • Internet searches

Part 2: Supporting Evidence

  • Background research
  • What we did
  • Summary of survey results
  • Key issues
  • The importance of purchasing power
  • Advantages of local authority services
  • Pros and cons of contract caterers
  • The rise of private catering consultants
  • Undermining compulsory nutritional standards
  • Reducing capacity to improve food sustainability
  • Good contract management is essential
  • Survey limitations

References

Appendices

  • Appendix I: Good food at great prices for in house caterers
  • Appendix II: Summary of models of school catering provision
  • Appendix III: Questionnaire sent to schools with local authority support
  • Appendix IV: Questionnaire sent to schools without local authority support
  • Appendix V: Summary table of data from survey questionnaires

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05/07/2012
Good Food on the Public Plate

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