Oliver attacks government over kids’ meals

THE COALITION Government is doing nothing to tackle the obesity crisis among kids, according to Jamie Oliver.

In an interview with Observer Food Monthly, Oliver launched a blistering attack on government policy, and in particular education secretary Michael Gove.


Oliver warned that the progress that had been made in recent years risks being undone by new academies which don’t have to follow the same nutrient-based government standards as other schools.


Oliver told the magazine: “This mantra that we are not going to tell (academy) schools what to do just isn’t good enough in the midst of the biggest obesity epidemic ever. The public health of five million children should not be left to luck or chance.”


The celebrity chef said that with a national obesity crisis unfolding Gove was “playing with fire”. He continued:


“We don’t want bullshit about the big society. We want a strategy to stop Britain being the fifth most unhealthy country in the world. The most unhealthy country in Europe.


“This is the first generation of kids not expected to live as long as their parents. Tell me, Mr Gove, Mr Lansley [the health secretary], how you plan to change that? Two out of five kids are obese. What is in your arsenal? The fact is, they are doing nothing.”


The Local Authority Caterers’ Association said it was aware of bad habits creeping in which had not been seen since standards for secondary school meals were introduced in 2009.


National chairman Lynda Mitchell was reported to have said: “I’ve come across an academy school where pupils have been allowed to go through with a plate of chips and a piece of cake. It is about high volumes of pupils and turning a profit.”


Earlier this month, ATL teachers’ union leader, Mary Bousted, said there was concern among teachers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17564317) about the size of portions, quality and choice of dinners available.


Bousted said at a time when more children were eligible for free school meals because of rising poverty, it was even more important that school meals were of good quality and size.

“But teachers are raising issues about the quantity of the food that children get, about the choice and the quality. Some teachers are saying that children don’t get enough food. I think it’s absolutely the case that children are going hungry and we all know what hunger does to young people’s ability to learn.”