Prue Leith is best known as one of the judges on Great British Bake Off, but she’s recently been wading into the debate about school meals.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, she said that she believes all children attending state schools in the UK should be given free vegetarian meals twice a week, the Times Educational Supplement reported.
Ms Leith also said that children should be banned from bringing packed lunches to school, as this would encourage them to eat the healthy meals provided through their school canteen.
“If the government was brave enough to say, ‘This is a free lunch – everyone has to have a healthy, two-course meal, and no-one will be allowed to bring a packed lunch into school,’ it would work wonders,” she asserted, explaining that it would not only help reduce obesity rates among children but would also help to save the planet.
She also said that this is a great opportunity to offer children foods they may not otherwise be exposed to.
An article for Independent Education Today recently explained how independent schools are looking at ways of making their catering more sustainable and healthy.
It cited one school, Hawley Hurst School, which has set up its own soup patch. The vegetables grown here will be used to make soups for the school menu when they are ready to harvest. The likes of home-grown potatoes, garlic and runner beans have already been served to the children at meal times though.
What’s more, the school is making sure that the children know exactly where the ingredients in their lunches have come from.
Andy McCoy, head of sustainability at the school, also said that they are serving children smaller portions to cut down on food waste. But to ensure no-one goes hungry, they’re encouraging a culture whereby it’s fine for youngsters to return for seconds.
The school also runs lessons on sustainability, and in cooking lessons children are taught how to prepare vegetables so that the entire plant can be used, for instance.
Including more seasonal foods in school menus is another way in which independent educational establishments are looking to improve their sustainability.
There are a number of advantages to this approach, the news provider noted. They include much lower food miles when produce is sourced within the UK and as locally as possible, as well as giving schools the opportunity to support local businesses, farmers and producers.
Seasonal produce typically costs less than items that are imported out of season, and because it’s so fresh it’s incredibly tasty.
Schools are also exploring ways of reducing their single-use plastic consumption. Thomas’ London Day School is just one example. Here, they no longer buy yoghurts in individual cartons, but instead buy five-gallon containers of yoghurt and portion it up into individual bowls.
They also asked all parents to provide their children with a reusable water bottle, which has saved 50,000 plastic bottles per year, general catering manager Mark Newman told the publication.
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