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Responding to today’s announcement by the Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, who called on schools to toughen up their stay on site policies, the School Food Trust heralded the suggestion as a common sense solution to a complicated problem.

Earlier this year the Trust highlighted the vast array of ‘Junk food temptations’ with the publication of the nations first ever junk food temptation league table. The research highlighted the most and least tempting local education authorities to go to school in, by ranking all 149 authorities by the number of junk food outlets that exist per secondary school in that area.

Judy Hargadon, Chief Executive of the School Food Trust, said the time had come to take action on the issue: “Caterers have worked tirelessly to overhaul school meals and this is being undermined by the myriad of cheap junk food on offer just outside the school gates, all in rush to grab pupils’ dinner money. As long as action is taken hand in hand with local authorities, pupils and parents, this would help level the playing field for school canteens.

Looking at solutions

The Trust is backing local authorities who limit the number of licenses granted to junk food outlets close to schools, building on the obesity strategy: Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: A cross Government Strategy for England – which called on Local Authorities to consider creating healthy food zones around schools in which junk food outlets were limited.

Judy Hargadon said: “The School Food Trust is thrilled that Waltham City Council has made the bold move to restrict takeaways near schools. Our own research has shown this is a real problem in many areas across the UK and has exposed the number of junk food hot spots that schools have to compete with on a daily basis. With schools working really hard it is vital that their efforts are not being undermined by junk food outside the gates and we applaud Waltham City Council for tackling this issue.”

Another option the Trust also recommends is that schools look into the feasibility of adopting a ‘stay-on-site policy’ restricting pupils to school grounds during lunch times, thus keeping them away from tempting junk food meal deals.

Separate research released by the Trust, carried out in conjunction with Tick Box, suggests that 90% of parents thought schools should adopt a stay on site policy, with 67% agreeing that children would eat more healthily if they were not allowed to leave school at lunch time. These results were corroborated by an earlier survey carried out with YouGov in December 2007.


Written by Richard Taylor
Monday, 17 November 2008 0:12

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