I agree that all children should be able to access healthy food at school every day. As a member of the Education Select Committee, education is one of my top priorities and with the help of good nutrition, pupils will be ready to learn and have the chance to achieve their full potential.
I understand your concerns regarding school food standards, and I assure you that the Government continues to promote compliance with the School Food Standards and will keep this under review. The Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 set out guidance on how schools should provide children with healthy food and drink options to get the necessary energy and nutrition throughout the school day. In response to your concerns that regulations are outdated, in 2022, the Levelling Up White Paper outlined plans to strengthen adherence by: trialling coordination with the Foods Standards Agency, providing funding of up to £200,000 for a pilot Governor Training Scheme; and encouraging schools to set out their whole school approach to food in a statement on their website. The Government is encouraging schools to respond to feedback from parents about their school meals provision and to act reasonably to ensure the needs and beliefs of their school community are being met. The Department for Education believes that headteachers, governors, and their caterers are best placed to make decisions about their school food policies, including the provision of vegan meals.
In the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ food (Defra) strategy, published in June 2022, the Government set out its commitment to conduct a review of the policy and delivery of the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). From my understanding, Defra is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care on the review. They are considering the sustainability of produce as a factor.
Addressing childhood obesity remains a priority for the Government, with restrictions on the location and promotion of products high in fat, salt, or sugar introduced in October 2022. As well as this, the Government is working with the food industry to make further progress on reformulation, building on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in reducing the average sugar content of drinks by 46 per cent between 2015 and 2020. These measures will help us reach the goal of halving childhood obesity by 2030.