Watchdog highlights quality of school meals in Ealing

89% of children get a freshly prepared lunch

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Ealing schoolchildren are now being served some of the freshest and healthiest meals in the country, a new report shows.

A total of 89% of main menu items are now prepared from fresh ingredients, one of the highest percentages in the country, the council’s watchdog has revealed.

The schools are also now spending more per head (55p), have healthier and fresher ingredients, and provide more healthy options than ever before.

This is the result of a unique partnership between the council, 59 primary and special schools, and school meals partner Harrisons Catering Services. Schools who prefer not to use Harrison Catering Services make their own arrangements and use contract caterers or provide the service themselves.

Councillors on the School Meals Panel visited two primary schools to taste school meals and ask children their views on the food provided by school meal contractor Harrisons.

They said they found the visits useful in understanding the issues, including the Consortium striving to increase the take up of school meals instead of children bringing unhealthy packed lunches into school, which tend to have unhealthy levels of sugar, fats and salt.

The councillors are recommending to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee that a school meals champion be appointed to oversee the service.  The post would include developing practical advice for parents on packed lunches and ensuring that publicity for free school meals is effective.

Cllr Harvey Rose, chair of the panel, said “It is clear from our research that Ealing's schools are increasingly aware of the importance of eating healthier food. I hope that parents will want to join with councillors on providing better lunches.”

February 21, 2006