Thursday 5 April 2012

John Prescott Condemns Labour School Meals Policy

On Tuesday, John Prescott constructed a tweet that was quite amusing.

Y'see, I think he was trying to imply that this government has had a detrimental effect on school meals.

He was referring to this article in the Indy.
School meal portions are being shrunk, leaving children to go hungry, teachers and parents have warned. Smaller portion sizes caused by cost-cutting are reported in schools across the country and are of particular concern, given the increase in the number of impoverished pupils who rely on school lunches as their only hot meal of the day.

"Children are going hungry in schools and we all know what hunger does to your ability to learn," said Mary Bousted, the ATL's general-secretary.

In the ATL survey, teachers warned that private providers, who are often hired to supply school meals, were cutting portion sizes to make their budgets go further and win new contracts.
Very interesting John, because I remember an article in The Times - now sadly behind the paywall but quoted for posterity here - which might explain part of the problem schools now find themselves in.
The future of school meals is in jeopardy because only half of secondary schools are on course to comply with stringent government standards, catering leaders will say today.

This could bring about the demise of hot meals in secondary schools, as caterers struggle to cope with the expensive and time-consuming restrictions. From September they will have to buy costly computer equipment to calculate the nutritional content of every meal. Each dish must meet 14 standards, including calorie content, fat, proteins and vitamins.

Caterers say that the obsession with raising the quality of school food, begun by the TV chef Jamie Oliver, has been taken too far by ministers.
Ministers who, in March 2009, were ones who rubbed shoulders with a certain John Prescott.

This may come as a bit of a stab in the dark, but could it be that the laughable over-reaction by his own side, after prompting by that self-absorbed idiot Jamie Oliver, has led to this - consequentially unintended, some might say - state of affairs?

Back in 2009, when Prescott's lot were in charge remember, things looked so rosy with fake charities positively gushing at how brilliant they were.
A spokeswoman for the School Food Trust, which devised the nutrient standards, said: “They are challenging but there is a very valid reason for them. It is important that they are in place to ensure we promote the health, wellbeing and achievements of children. The School Food Trust has worked with caterers from a number of different school settings. All have proved that through hard work and engagement with students they have been able to produce a compliant, appealing, tasty and varied menu.”
They're playing a different violin now, though.
A spokesman for the School Food Trust said: "Our research proves that school food is particularly sensitive to changes in price. In these tough financial times, access to decent food for children has never been so important."
Very true.

Perhaps, then, you shouldn't have connived with Labour and that Oliver twerp to burden school meal provision with so much cost that - surprise, surprise - they are reducing portions to fit in with your ridiculous pronouncements.

Good grief.


Andy Sscarborough said...

The law of unintended consequences perhaps. Or maybe the law of intended consequences, no-one could be so stupid could they?

Curmudgeon said...

Isn't this all part of fighting childhood obesity?

ChrisB said...

Jamie Oliver raised the price of meals by 50 or 60p and labelled school cooks as incompetent. 
Many excellent school cooks did what they could with what was provided and I know of some who used their own money to buy decent ingredients. They are the truly insulted ones who refused to be retrained and now they're lost to the system.
Thank you Jamie - the private providers will continue to enjoy their increased profits but at what cost to the schools and their pupils.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Oh, they could. Government is the very essence of 'stupid'. ;)

Mudplugger said...

More than 85% of any child's meals are eaten away from school - can't get excited about a less than 15% issue. Whatever 'good' is claimed for school fodder is easily overwhelmed by that majority of out-of-school troughing.

In my distant schooldays, school dinners consisted of a single dish - the 'choice element' was whether you ate it or not.   Get rid of the ridiculous choices, serve simple wholesome food - give the kids the single choice, eat it or go hungry.  You'd be amazed how many Jewish kids had (and enjoyed)the pork sausages.  Costs come down, health goes up, life-lessons are learnt.

Jay said...

Let them eat brioche. 

…Zaph said...

Indeed. We keep bumping up against what I believe is called "the Streisand effect" again and again and again. Will they never learn? I find it all hilarious…but then I don't have kids…

Edgar said...

Has the Government declared a state of national emergency on account of a shortage of brats? No? Then what is the harm if a few of them quietly perish in a dusty corner of the school canteen? Might encourage the others.

c777 said...

Mooooooooore !

Lyn said...

Yes, the law of consequences, unintended or not.  This is something I taught my daughter when she was just a teenager.  It was a fairly petty issue, but her dad took her to the hairdressers - I had asked that she just have a trim that time as we had not had the chance to discuss new styles.  She came home with her beautiful long hair gone and a sort of bob cut that nothing could be done with.

As a consequence I told her she could take care of it herself, not to expect me to wash it or try to put it up - it was now too short anyway.  She wasn't happy!  I explained that actions, thought through or not, tend to have reactions (consequences) that do not always produce the required results!

She is now an adult and tells me she has never forgotten that and now, when making decisions tries to look at all the possible consequences.  We all know that we will rarely, if ever, cover all the possibilities, but that with some intelligence and life experience, the obvious ones should, at least, be covered - so long as we are objective and also put ourselves in the 'other' position and try to see it from anothers viewpoint.

Perhaps the law of consequences should be taught in schools?  After all, with all the nannying going on by governments these days, people are losing the will, never mind the ability, to think for themselves! 

Tim Almond said...

not so much "the law of unintended consequences" as "the law of not spending even a moment considering what's likely to happen".

I got into a right ding-dong with someone at school over the food being local and organic, and pointed out that all this was going to do was raise costs and do nothing to improve food for children.

This obsession with childhood obesity is ridiculous. The important thing is that kids get a lot of fresh air to run around and kick a ball. You can basically shovel any food into them (and please don't get me started on the clear Hawthorne Effect in that Jamie Oliver programme).

Jonathan Bagley said...

Am in agreement with Mudplugger. My school meals were good and everyone ate them and enjoyed them. About half a dozen out of 400 had some special meals, but the rest of us took no interest. I've no idea what was going on.
If there was no choice, school meals could be made very cheaply. Even cooking for one, it's possible to make a wide variety of nutritious and tasty main dishes for around 70p.

Lyn said...

What also needs to be remembered regarding 'obesity' is that many children are plump, but as they grow upwards they also grow inwards and end up as perfectly normal, healthy teenagers and adults, not in the least bit obese!

It's one of the genetic things again - you know, the ones that make us what we are?