Let’s face it, the way we feed our kids at school is nothing short of a national disgrace!
My work with local schools has brought me into daily contact and I have been traumatised by the poor standard of cooking and the planning of school meals.Food has often become a revenue earner in many schools and food is often created that is a “seller” regardless of it lack of nutrition.
Hi Carb and hi sugar is the order of the day with many children now reaching their recommended intakes by early morning. Pizza, cheese on toast, cakes paninis, cakes, sticky buns, all on sale by 11.00am.
When Jamie Oliver first highlighted the situation, we have known the dangers and I really thought schools had changed but they haven’t. I started out shocked and dismayed but I needed to find out why this was happening and after a years study I believe I have found the reasons, the answer’s and the solutions. This all might sound grand, but in reality the answers have been staring us right in the face for many years.
Kids need feeding for sure, they are hungry at the best of times but the “full on assault” of the politically correct brigade has proved a failure. Replacing pizza with a Fruit Kebab might sound the answer but the uptake is poor, and so the value is of no significance. Schools also rely heavily on the revenue generated by the sales of Hi carb-Hi sugar items to sustain jobs, if they suddenly drop in revenue redundancies are likely if not inevitable and this too is a major issue and a real reason for the lack of progress.
So what DO we do?
British Children are now addicted to Sugar and Carbohydrates, there is no doubt. Until now the technology in food has not been at the forefront (although it has been there for many years ) that enables us to replace the Hi-Carbs and Sugars with an equally effective product in both taste and value. If we can produce flour based products with Low Carb alternatives that are great to eat and cost the same price them we are at a major turning point in school feeding, and I believe that time has come.
The revolution in Vegan and Allergenic free products has stormed the supermarkets and the technology to produce the Lower Value items that we seek is right there to be harnessed and used. If the kids want Pizza, great let them have it, BUT let us ( the industry ) make sure that what they eat is vastly reduced in Carbs and sugars, and that it still tastes great and that the caterers can continue to run their business cost effectively.
Low Carb flours and Bread ( Hovis Lower Carb ) are now so advanced that they are indeed a real alternative and whilst still expensive that cost will come down with consumer pressure and continued use. The same applies to sugar. Alternatives in the past were poor but the revolution in Plant Based, natural products has seen a real alternative such as Stevia coming to the market
That’s where food4kids comes in. We will use our Union to lobby industry and schools to come on board, help us to produce these products and put them into the real environment. Unichef is a Community Union and where better can we make a difference then right in the heart of how every school should run, from its kitchens. We will teach and educate Heads, Teachers and the kids into the future of eating and bring awareness about Obesogenic Environments.
We will work closely with the Schools, Caterers and suppliers to ensure a consistent and sustained approach to this NEW challenge, a 21st century challenge using technology to solve the issues that we face. We will encourage top chefs to be involved and help us to produce items and menus fit for today's educational system and we will bring food back onto the curriculum where many believe it should be.