required to ensure that the meals they provide support balanced nutritional intake. They are also encouraged to increase the number of children who are eating the food, as the impact of school meals on child health must be measured in terms of not only what schools offer, but also the number of children affected. While regulations govern what schools offer, no child is forced to eat school food. Thus, school meals are offered in a market environment and must also appeal to children’s palates.
Schools in the United Kingdom choose how they provide food to students, from having small kitchen staffs to contracting with large catering companies and many variations in between. Food is offered as a commercial service: meals for those in need are covered by a government subsidy, but sales must cover most other costs.
The School Food Trust was established in 2005 after Jamie Oliver, a noted celebrity chef in England, called attention to unhealthy school food in a popular television program. The Trust’s mission is to “transform school food and food skills, promote the education and health of children and young people and improve the quality of food in schools,” including that provided for lunch and breakfast, as well as that offered through vending machines, snacks, classes, and special events. The Trust works to dispel the myth that rules governing school food cannot result in food that appeals to children.
The School Food Trust revised the 1990s-era standards related to the provision of food in schools to include both food- and nutrient-based standards. The food-based standards specify foods to include, limit, or exclude across the school day, but do not specify portion size, food balance, or overall nutrient balance. The nutrient-based standards set upper limits for fat, sugar, and salt and lower limits for protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The time frame for issuing the new standards has been rapid: interim food-based standards were issued for lunches in September 2006 and for other meals and snacks in September 2007; final food- and nutrient-based standards were issued for primary schools in September 2008 and for all other schools in September 2009.
Schools are responsible for implementing the standards, and they have developed appealing menus that comply. Hargadon provided examples of these menus (see Figure 4-1), as well as the calculations used to develop the nutrient-based standards for primary and secondary students. The Trust publishes a number of guides and training materials to assist in compliance.
One concern regarding implementation of the new standards was their effect on the number of students eating the meals. Uptake of school lunch