School meals, markets and quality September 2005 An independent report from Steve Davies of Cardiff University commissioned by UNISON. Steve Davies is a Senior Research Fellow in the Global Political Economy Research Group at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. Global Political Economy School of Social Sciences Cardiff University King Edward VII Avenue Cardiff CF10 3WT www.cf.ac.uk/socsi/CREST SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY 3 Contents Executive summary 4 Introduction 6 School meals and children 9s health 7 History of the school meals service 8 Introduction 8 The rise and fall of the school meals service 9 1906 10 1944 11 1980 12 (Hobson 9s) Choice 12 2000 13 Campaigning for high quality school meals 15 UNISON 9s appetite for life 16 School meals today 17 The school meals market 18 Markets, competition and change: the road to the turkey twizzler 19 The effects on staff 19 Jobs 19 The spiral of decline 20 Hours 20 Pay 20 Deskilling 21 Training 21 The effects on facilities 22 Introduction 22 Regeneration or prime cook?
23 Lack of competition 24 Lack of LEA control 25 Length of contract 25 Cost of amending or cancelling the contract 26 Other problems 27 The effects on quality 27 ... more. less.
Budget cuts and the squeeze on costs 27 Compulsory Competitive Tendering 28 A Turkey Twizzler contains: 29 Best value 30 Funding delegation 31 the wider effects of commercialising schools 32 Discussion and conclusions 33 References 35 Executive summary The story of school meals is also the story of public services in Britain.The school meals service not only reflects the rise of the welfare state and universal public provision,but also the subsequent drive for deregulation,privatisation and the re-introduction of markets into the provision of public services. The current public interest in the quality of school meals is part of an increased anxiety about food safety (following the scares relating to BSE,CJD,salmonella and E.coli) and growing awareness of the general decline in health of the population as a result of poor diet - not only of children but also of adults.There is particular concern about children 9s health as illnesses and conditions are appearing among them that are more associated with older people. The Department of Health (DH) estimates that the cost of obesity is £3.7 billion per year, including £49 million for treating obesity,£1.1 billion for treating the consequences of obesity, and indirect costs of £1.1 billion for premature death and £1.45 billion for sickness absence.If the cost of being overweight is added,it is estimated this would rise to £7.4 billion per year (DH, 2004).<br><br> The history of school meals provision in the UK has always been highly political.It has involved controversy over the role of the state and the family in child rearing,the 8nanny state 9 and the state 9s duty of care,debates about welfare and education,industrialisation and military preparedness,the role of schools,sustainability and public procurement as an instrument of public policy. The Education (Provision of Meals) Act was introduced in 1906 partly in response to government concern about the poor state of health of recruits to the army for the Boer War.School meals were seen as a means to combat malnutrition. The 1944 Education Act introduced the welfare state approach to school meals 3 a universalist, national system making school meals an integral part of the school day for all children.An obligation on Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to provide meals included national standards and national pricing.School meals were seen as having a multi-functional role against poverty, disease and malnutrition and as a contribution to health,education and social welfare provision.<br><br> With the Conservative election victory in 1979,the 1980 Education Act formed part of a generalised attempt to dismantle the welfare state of which school meals were a part.School meals were relegated to a non-essential service,the obligation on LEAs to provide meals was removed (except for those pupils entitled to free meals),nutritional standards were abolished and national pricing ended.Further restrictions on eligibility for free school meals followed. Expenditure cutbacks,rising prices and the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) drove down costs and quality,saw the rise of school cafeteria systems and resulted in a massive decline in school meal take up. The new Labour government elected in 1997 reintroduced nutritional standards in 2001 but these were largely unmonitored and criticised for being based on food groups rather than nutrients.Meanwhile Best Value,the successor to CCT,continued to emphasise contracting out.<br><br> The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was increasingly used in schools as a vehicle for new investment for new build schools or rebuilding and refurbishing existing schools. Innovative approaches began to be developed by the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales,including large increases in funding in Scotland and free breakfasts for primary school pupils in Wales. Delegation of school meals funding to English secondary schools in 2000 caused further problems for schools 3 particularly in relation to kitchen and dining area maintenance and replacement.<br><br> 4 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY The accumulated effects on school catering staff of the last 20 years or so means that the service is understaffed with poor pay and conditions,with a need for a programme of reskilling through training. Savage underinvestment has left schools with inadequate facilities for modern,healthy cooking. While a programme of refurbishment,rebuilding and new build of schools is underway,the emphasis on PFI causes concern.Far too many PFI school projects exclude the provision of full production kitchens,relying instead on 8regeneration 9 kitchens.<br><br> Contracting out continues to be used as the legacy of CCT lingers on,bringing with it many of the same problems 3 especially the continued existence of a two tier workforce in which workers receive different pay and conditions despite carrying out the same job. Responding to continued public concern in March 2005 the government announced a series of new measures and funding.Reviews on nutritional standards and the school meals service are scheduled to report in September 2005. Current positive attitudes among the general public and the media must not be allowed to dissipate but used to drive the transformation of the service.<br><br> The steady degeneration of the service over two decades can and must be reversed.That requires not only investment in ingredients and facilities but also in staff.The two tier workforce must be swiftly brought to an end. Resources must be protected so that standards for staffing levels and training are high and safeguarded. All new build secondary schools and all new build primary schools above an agreed size 3 whether PFI funded or not - should be obliged to include a full production (or prime) kitchen.<br><br> Quality not cost must be the focus.Competitive tendering and contracting out emphasised the driving down of costs at the expense of quality. Directors of children's services and education should be responsible for incorporating food in schools into their plans for children's welfare.The government must ensure that the school meals service is returned to the heart of education and social policy. 5 Introduction The school meals service has changed many times over the last century.But how did we get from the 8health and welfare service 9 set up in the 1944 Education Act to the turkey twizzler?<br><br> In many ways the story of school meals is also the story of public services in Britain.The school meals service not only reflects the rise of the welfare state and universal public provision,but also the subsequent drive for deregulation,privatisation and the re-introduction of markets into the provision of public services.It is a story of links and connections.Any review of school meals has to refer to the link between diet and health,in particular between school children 9s diet and health and the role that school meals play in this relationship.But it also draws in the links between health and learning (Blades,2001),between junk food and behavioural problems (NUT, 2004),and the fact that it is in childhood and adolescence that eating habits are established. The debate over school meals has ranged beyond the dining area to embrace the question of sustainability in terms of the role that the school meals service could and should play within the community. The links that exist in the current system 3 largely as a result of privatisation and increasing commercialisation of the service 3 are those associated with the notion of 8cheap food 9.In reality it is not cheap because there are hidden and transferred costs in a system of poor quality, industrialised food production:costs in terms of the burden on the NHS; economic costs to local producers and the rural economy; and costs in environmental damage.And there is the very real cost paid by the staff who work within the service in terms of pay,conditions and job satisfaction.<br><br> The links that are possible in a sustainable model have been described as the multiple dividend (Morgan and Morley,2003),that is:high quality food for healthier diets; local markets for local producers; lower food miles and less damage to the environment. There is a growing literature on school meals and sustainability,to the extent that some researchers argue that the school meal 8has become a litmus test of our commitment to sustainable development 9 (Morgan and Morley,2003). What has received less attention is the very real link between a well paid,well trained,fully staffed workforce and a high quality school meals service.Part of that story of the last 20 years has been the clash of price versus quality in both the cost of labour and the cost of food.<br><br> This paper examines the current situation in the school meals service and the environment for change,within the context of the origin and history of school meals.It looks at diet and health, the effects of deregulation,markets and privatisation on the quality of the service and on the staff.It focuses on how the national drive for improvement may be hindered by the commercial interests now embedded in the education system,and finally concludes with a discussion on what needs to be done. 6 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY School meals and children 9s health The link between childhood diet and health (both in childhood and later life) has been acknowledged for some time 3 perhaps most significantly in the 1974 publication of the government report on Diet and Coronary Heart Disease (Passmore and Harris,2004).The current public interest in the quality of school meals is part of an increased anxiety about food safety (following the scares relating to BSE,CJD,salmonella and E.coli) and growing awareness of the general decline in health of the population as a result of poor diet - not only of children but also of adults. There is particular concern about children 9s health as illnesses and conditions are appearing among them that are more associated with older people (like diabetes type 2),and because obesity in childhood can contribute to serious health risks in adulthood (such as some types of cancer,diabetes and cardiovascular disease).<br><br> According to a recent study of obesity in children living in England (Jotangia et al,2005),the proportion of children aged between two and 10 who were overweight (including those who were obese) rose from 22.7% in 1995 to 27.7% in 2003.The prevalence of obesity among children aged two to 10 rose from 9.9% to 13.7% in the same period.The increase in older children aged eight to 10 was even more significant,rising from 11.2% in 1995 to 16.5% in 2003. In 2003 Sir John Krebs,then chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA),said that obesity is a 8ticking timebomb 9 and warned that 8if nothing is done to stop the trend,for the first time in a 100 years life expectancy will actually go down 9 (Ahmed et al,2003). Obesity is also related to poverty.Measured by income,area deprivation or socio-economic group,researchers found that children from working class or poor backgrounds were more likely to register high rates of obesity (Jotangia et al,2005).<br><br> The National Audit Office (NAO) (2001) calculates that in 1998,30,000 deaths in England were attributable to obesity 3 6% of all deaths in that year.The NAO projects that by 2010,if current rates continue,a quarter of all adults will be obese. The Department of Health (DH) estimates that the cost of obesity is £3.7 billion per year,including £49 million for treating obesity,£1.1 billion for treating the consequences of obesity,and indirect costs of £1.1 billion for premature death and £1.45 billion for sickness absence.If the cost of being overweight is added,it is estimated this would rise to £7.4 billion per year (DH,2004). For school age children,school meals still play an important role.For those aged between 11 and 18,school meals contribute between one-quarter and one-third of the daily intake of energy, fat,dietary fibre,iron,calcium,vitamin C and folate.This is usually greater in children in receipt of free school meals (DH,2000).<br><br> However,according to the Department of Health (2005),most British children still eat too much saturated fat,added sugars and salt. 8Average salt intakes are up to 50% higher than recommended and only around 15% of all children meet the recommendations for added sugars, around 8% meet the recommendations for saturated fat and around 42% meet the recommendations for total fat 9 (DH,2005).And although the government recommends that every child eats five portions of fruit and vegetables a day,on average children eat only two. A recent Department for Education and Skills (DfES)/FSA survey of school meals in English secondary schools showed that even if healthy food is available,secondary pupils often make poor food choices for their school lunch,selecting food with too much fat,salt and sugar,and little or no fruit or vegetables (Nelson et al,2004).Since the late 1980s,studies of the diets of British school children have consistently shown that they lack nutritional balance (Burgess and Bunker,2002) and that diets have actually deteriorated (Gustafsson,2002).This evidence, together with the recognition of the continuing role of school meals in children 9s diets,persuaded the Labour government of the need to reintroduce nutritional standards in 2001.The standards were weak and largely unmonitored making little difference to quality.However,a further review of standards and of the service as a whole is now taking place. 7 History of the school meals service Introduction The history of school meals provision in the UK has always been highly political.It has involved controversy over the role of the state and the family in child rearing,the 8nanny state 9 and the state 9s duty of care,debates about welfare and education,industrialisation and military preparedness,the role of schools,sustainability and public procurement as an instrument of public policy.<br><br> It is almost 100 years since the 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act gave local education authorities (LEAs) the power to provide free or reduced charge meals for those children who would otherwise be unable to benefit from the education provided.In Scotland,the Education (Scotland) Act of 1908 fulfilled the same role. Although there were various local initiatives (for example in Glasgow,London and Manchester), the 1906 Act is generally seen as the foundation of the school meals service in Britain. Over the last century,the focus of government school meals policy has changed in line with more general aspects of policy.In many respects,the attitude of the government of the day to school meals reveals its approach to wider issues of social and economic policy.<br><br> Gustafsson (2002) argues that it is possible to divide the years since 1906 into four distinct periods in relation to school meals policy: Ï 1906 medical treatment Ï 1944 nutritional standardisation Ï 1980 providing choice Ï 2000 nutritional guidance. 8 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SCHOOL MEALS SERVICE 1879 Manchester provides free school meals to 8destitute and badly nourished children 9. 1889 London School Board establishes a School Dinners Association.<br><br> 1892 Bradford school board allows the use of school cellars to prepare and serve dinners to poor children.School meals are provided by 45 boards. 1893 An inter-departmental committee reports on the poor physique of volunteers during the Boer War.Compulsory education highlights the problem of underfed children.Over 350 voluntary bodies provide meals for underfed children. 1906 The Education Act empowers local education authorities (LEAs) to contribute to the costs incurred by school canteen committees.Boards of education are given powers (but not compelled) to provide free meals to the poorest children.<br><br> 1914 The Provision of Meals Act gives the chancellor of the exchequer power to make available grants to cover half the cost of meals.However the First World War leads to a cut in the provision of free school meals from 400,000 in 1914 to 43,000 in 1918. 1920 Over one million children are provided with meals. 1924 Free milk in schools is introduced.<br><br> 1939 Only half of education authorities (157) now provide a total of 160,000 free school meals. 1940 National school meals policy is introduced.The government initially provides70% of the cost of meals,increasing to 95% in the following year.Recommendations for nutritional content,staffing levels,and the organisation of the service are established.Price of school meal is fixed at 5d. 1944 The 1944 Education Act requires LEAs to provide a meal to every child in a maintained school who wants one.Around 1.8 million children now receive a school meal.<br><br> 1947 The full cost of school meals is met by the government. 1950 Price of school meals is increased to 6d. 1953 Price of school meals is increased to 9d.<br><br> 1956 Price of school meals is increased to 10d. 1957 Price of school meals is increased to 1s. 1966 Circular 3/66,The Nutritional Standard of School Dinners,replaces Circular 1571 (of 1941).<br><br> 1967 The 100% grant for school meals expenditure is withdrawn and replaced by a system of general rate support. 1969 Price of school meals is increased to 1s 6d. 1970 In England and Wales,67.9 per cent of children (44 per cent in Scotland) now have a school meal.The government announces its intention to raise the price of a meal to 2s 10d in two stages.<br><br> 1971 Price of school meals is 12p. 1975 Price of school meals is increased to 15p.The report of the Department of Education and Science (DES) working party,Nutrition in Schools,is published. 1976 The government announces its intention to reduce the cost of school meals by £9 million in 1977/78 and £36 million in 1978/79.<br><br> 1977 Price of school meals is increased to 25p.On census day,61.7% of all school children had a school meal. 9 THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SCHOOL MEALS SERVICE (CONTINUED) 1979 White Paper on public expenditure estimates the cost of school meals at £380 million and targets to reduce this to £190 million by lowering the quality of the service through greater use of convenience foods.Price of school meals is increased to 30p. 1980 The new Education Act gives LEAs the power to axe the school meals service.<br><br> There are only two statutory requirements: Ï LEAs must ensure that children whose parents receive supplementary benefit or family income supplement receive a free meal Ï facilities must be provided for pupils who bring their own food. Charges now range from 35p to 55p per meal.Cafeterias are introduced in secondary schools.The number of school children taking school meals drops to 41.7%.Dorset County Council votes to discontinue its school meals service. 1981 Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) publishes Badge of Poverty,a new look at the stigma attached to free school meals.Lincolnshire withdraws school meals.<br><br> 1982 As more budget cuts are introduced,cash cafeterias are encouraged in secondary schools. 1983 The DES census shows that 51.4% of pupils now have school meals 3 free school meals account for 15%. 1987 The Social Security Act 1986 comes into force.Children of parents in receipt of income support are still eligible for free school meals; those in receipt of family credit have the price of the meal nominally included in the benefit.As a result, thousands of children lose their entitlement 3 49.4% of school children now have school meals.CPAG publishes One Good Meal A Day:the loss of free school meals.<br><br> 1988 The Local Government Act forces LEAs to put the provision of school meals out to competitive tendering.Buckinghamshire closes its service. 1991 The rise of compulsory competitive tendering leads to cuts in school meals services.CPAG publishes School meals fact sheet. 1992 The further tightening of eligibility rules for income support means that only people working under 16 hours a week are eligible to claim free school meals, compared with 24 hours previously.11% of local authorities cease to provide school meals beyond their statutory requirement.<br><br> 1995 Only 45% of children in England now take school meals. Source: McMahon W and Marsh T (1999) Filling the Gap:free school meals,nutrition and poverty.Child Poverty Action Group:London. 1906 Gustafsson (2002) links the introduction of the right (but not the obligation) of LEAs to provide school meals to the needs of industrialisation and the military demands of empire.<br><br> Compulsory education was introduced in Britain in 1880 with the Elementary Education Act and this revealed the extent of malnutrition in children (Passmore and Harris,2004).If compulsory education was part of the need to create the disciplined,literate and numerate workforce required for industrial production,then the fact that many children were 8unable by reason of lack of food to take advantage of the education provided for them 9 demanded action.It is in this sense that feeding children was seen as a medical treatment. In Scotland,the provision of hot meals at school was in part a deliberate inducement for school attendance and compliance with the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872 (Young,2002). 10 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY In his study of poverty in York,the Quaker philanthropist,Rowntree commented: 8The relation of food to industrial efficiency is so obvious and so direct as to be a commonplace among students of political economy 9 (Rowntree,1902,cited in Colquhoun et al 2001).<br><br> Concern about public health grew as problems relating to army recruitment for the Boer War (1899-1902) showed the poor state of health of working class men.The quality of recruits was so dire that the height requirement for infantry was reduced (Colquhoun et al 2001).Only one in nine recruits were healthy enough to serve in the armed forces (Passmore and Harris,2004) and the report of the Interdepartental Committee on Physical Deterioration which was set up in response,led directly to the Education (Provision of Meals) Act in 1906. So at this stage,children were seen as a form of investment for tomorrow 9s workers or soldiers and school meals were a means to combat malnutrition. The legislation was minimalist in that it did not compel local authorities to do anything; it simply allowed them to provide school meals.But if they did so,there were limits.An expenditure limit was set by central government,the money had to be raised locally from the rates.Free or reduced charge school meals could only be provided for those children identified by medical experts as malnourished,all other children had to pay at least the costs of the meal.<br><br> 1944 The next great landmark was the 1944 Education Act.Compared to 1906,it represented a revolutionary change.The act embodied the welfare state approach of the latter stages of the war which saw the influence of Beveridge and laid the basis for the reforming Labour government of 1945. Section 49 of the 1944 Education Act placed a duty on all LEAs to provide school meals and milk in primary and secondary schools.The authors of the legislation intended that school meals should be an integral part of the school day. In the spirit of the times,this was a universalist,national system.It was a move away from a system designed to feed the very poorest 3 a safety net against malnutrition 3 into a national scheme for all children.Nutritional standards were based on those established in 1941 by a team of nutritionists (incidentally the first ever national minimum nutritional standards in Britain (Colquhoun et al,2001)),a standard price was stipulated across the whole country and school meals had to be suitable as the main meal of the day,providing children with one third of their daily requirements of nutrients and energy (Gustafsson,2002).<br><br> LEAs 9 new powers were not limited just to the provision of school lunches.They were allowed to provide other meals and to continue the service on weekends and holidays. The act was based on the experience of the inter-war and wartime years.Even before 1939,it was clear that the school feeding model was inadequate,but during the war,several issues brought the need for change into sharp focus:rationing failed to meet the special needs of children; civic catering facilities were set up in response to bombing and consequent population movement,including children 9s evacuations; meals provided at school became a necessity for many families as women filled the gaps in the labour market caused by men 9s conscription; the new family allowance included free school meals and free school milk (Sharp,1992). By 1945 over three million lunches a day were being provided to three quarters of British school children.By 1946,take up of school milk was 92.6% of the school population (despite its shortcomings in some areas,rationing allowed the state to make school children a priority for milk) (Passmore and Harris,2004).<br><br> This welfare state approach based on collective and universal provision,rested on a view of citizenship with rights and entitlements.Children were citizens in post war reconstruction 3 perhaps more accurately future citizens or children of citizens (Gustafsson,2004).It was a long way from the reluctant abandonment of laissez faire that characterised the 1906 act,and this welfarist approach survived until 1980. 11 1980 The Conservative election victory in 1979 has come to be seen as a turning point for public services in the UK.But this change did not come without warning.After the 1973 oil crisis and the resulting end of the long post war boom,there was an increasing questioning of the welfare state in Britain (Gustafsson,2002).Pressure on public spending increased,especially after the then Labour government called on International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and was obliged to accept IMF economic direction. The election of the Thatcher government saw an overt rejection by government of the ideas behind the welfare state,of which the school meals service was a small but important component.It was part of the highly unionised local government sector.Not only that,but it was a very clear example of the post war Labour government 9s welfarist approach which 3 at its best 3 saw a service like school meals as having a multi-functional role against poverty,disease and malnutrition and as a contribution to health,education and social welfare provision (Morgan and Morley,2002).<br><br> By contrast,Mrs Thatcher saw public ownership or public services and strong unions as the twin props of 8socialism 9.She described privatisation as: "& one of the central means of reversing the corrosive effects of socialism& Just as nationalisation was at the heart of the collectivist programme by which Labour governments sought to remodel British society,so privatisation is at the centre of any programme of reclaiming territory for freedom" ( Thatcher,1993). (HOBSON 9S) CHOICE When the 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act was passed there was criticism that the state was interfering in the rights and responsibilities of the family.It was argued that making school meals available to the poorest families would remove any incentive for responsible parenting. Today the argument against what the Conservatives call the 8nanny state 9 has shifted to claiming that school children should have the choice to eat what they want and that the market is the means to that choice.<br><br> This assumes that we make choices in a vacuum.Of course we do not,and the existence and shape of the food advertising industry reveals much about the social environment of food choice (Morgan and Morley,2002). The food industry claims simply to reflect changing taste but it is no accident that in 2000,less than 1% of the UK food advertising budget was dedicated to fresh fruit and vegetables and 28% to advertising cereals,cakes,biscuits,crisps and snacks.99% of adverts for food during children 9s TV programmes was for products high in either salt, sugar or fat (Sustain,2001). It is not surprising that school children make poor food choices (Nelson et al,2004) eating meals with too much fat,salt and sugar,and little or no fruit or vegetables.After all,much of the rest of society does so as well.However,one of the reasons for this is that a side effect of the deregulation of school meals in 1980 was to replace the concept of a set meal with the choice of an array of food items.So it is usually possible to choose exactly the same unhealthy mix of food almost every school day.<br><br> This transfer of responsibility to children for their own diet emphasises choice but in reality,price,the tendering process as well as the power of the advertising industry all play a part in restricting and directing that choice (Brannen and Storey,1998). If schools are to play a role in encouraging 8children to make informed choices by offering healthy food and drink options that reflect what is taught in the classroom 9 (DfES,2004) then these questions have to be addressed. 12 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY The 1980 Education Act was a part of this drive to begin to remove the state from various aspects of life in Britain.It relegated school meals to a non-essential service,removed the obligation on LEAs to provide school meals (except for those pupils entitled to free meals).It obliged schools to provide somewhere for pupils to eat a packed lunch.Before this,heads had the power to prevent pupils bringing packed lunches to school (Bone,1992).Nutritional standards were abolished and Wxed pricing was ended.<br><br> The 1986 Social Security Act introduced restrictions on eligibility for free school meals.Rules were tightened again in 1992.In each case thousands of school children lost the right to a free meal.The 1986 act limited entitlement to free school meals to children whose families received income support and was removed from those receiving family credit.This resulted in 400,000 children losing entitlement to free school meals (Gustafsson,2002). The 1988 Local Government Act saw the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) that forced LEAs to put school meals services out to tender.This drove down prices and quality, regardless of whether the service was contracted out or not,as local authorities were obliged to let the contract to the tender offering the cheapest price.Local authorities were also prohibited from 8anti-competitive behaviour 9 through the use of contract compliance or any reference to 8non-commercial matters 9.In other words,local authorities could not require bidders to meet certain standards seen as not directly related to the service,such as the pay and conditions of the workforce. At around this period,secondary schools turned to cash cafeterias and away from traditional school canteens serving a standard lunch.Rising prices (following the abolition of national pricing) was combined with a significant drop in the proportions of pupils taking school meals 3 from 64% in 1979 to 47% in 1988 (Cole-Hamilton et al,1991).With no obligatory nutritional standards,schools increasingly used their meals service as a revenue generator.In order to maximise sales,much of the same poor quality food as available in high street fast food outlets appeared in school cafeterias.Under the banner of 8choice 9,schools moved from a system in which the child was seen as 8a collective recipient of stipulated,standard provision to an individual consumer able to select from a range of alternatives 9 (Gustafsson,2004).Although it should be pointed out that the focus on the consumer was much less important than the focus on reducing public expenditure.<br><br> Growing concern about the impact of the deregulation of school meals (Colquhoun et al,2001) was ignored until the voters produced a change of government in 1997. 2000 The election of the new Labour government saw the eventual reintroduction of nutritional standards in April 2001 with the implementation of the 8Education (Nutritional Standards for School Lunches) (England) Regulations 2000 9 (Statutory Instrument 2000 No.1777).However, the form chosen was based on food groups rather than nutrients as favoured by most nutritionists and advocated by UNISON.So for example,red meat must be served twice a week, but the protein,fat,iron and salt content of the food are not taken into account.Food-based guidelines in a commercialised school meal service mean that cheap,poor quality beef burgers can be served rather than high quality red meats,despite the low nutritional content (NUT,2004). No system of monitoring accompanied the move and there was a widespread belief that many caterers fell below the standards set.The new Labour government recognised the damage done by the removal of all nutritional standards but,in line with policy elsewhere in the public services,continued to emphasise 8choice 9.<br><br> With devolution in 1999,Wales and Scotland began to develop their own school meals policy. The Welsh Assembly government is committed to provide all 285,000 pupils of primary school age registered in the 1,650 maintained primary schools in Wales with the opportunity of receiving a free,healthy breakfast at school each day during the school week by January 2007. It will involve parents but is not intended to replace breakfast already provided.It will allow all those,who,for whatever reason,have not had breakfast,to have one in school.The scheme began in Community First areas in nine local authorities in September 2004 (Welsh Assembly Government Cabinet,2004).<br><br> 13 Meanwhile Scotland powered ahead with publication of 8Hungry for Success 9 in November 2002, a report from the Scottish Executive 9s Expert Panel on School Meals (Scottish Executive,2002).It recommended the 8whole school 9 approach to school meals.A large increase in funding was announced by the Scottish Executive (£63.5 million over three years).Other measures included free fruit for all pupils in primary one and two,standard portion sizes and product specifications, provision of drinking water,action to increase uptake of free school meal entitlement,improved facilities in dining rooms and an emphasis on new,tougher nutritional standards with monitoring built into school inspections (Scottish Executive,2004). There were few such initiatives in England although in 2000 the government delegated school meals funding to secondary schools (primary and special schools were also able to apply for delegation).There was no obligation for schools to spend all the allocation on meals and none to ensure that any surplus generated was spent on improving the quality of school meals. In England the House of Commons Health Select Committee,in its report on obesity (2004), remarked that in contrast with Scotland 9s approach: &we were disappointed to learn that England 9s guidance specifically and conspicuously states that only the regulations,which do not require any specific nutrient content,are compulsory and that the guidance on good practice is cnot required by law. d The problem was underlined by a report on school meals in secondary schools in England, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency and DfES (Nelson et al,2004).It confirmed that school meals were not healthily balanced,often failed to meet the nutritional guidelines and had too little iron,calcium and energy.<br><br> The concern over the quality of school meals forms part of a more general concern over food quality and health standards,which embraces the series of food scares under the Conservatives 3 BSE,CJD,salmonella,E.coli and the panic over childhood obesity. This heightened awareness among the public and consequent media attention hit a crescendo in early 2005 with the broadcast of a television series,featuring the celebrity chef,Jamie Oliver 3 8Jamie 9s school dinners 9. The programme focussed on the poor quality of food,the low level of financing,lack of training for an inadequate number of catering staff,and health impacts on school students.With an election looming,the government re-emphasised some of the initiatives already begun and announced a series of new measures.<br><br> At the end of March,education secretary Ruth Kelly declared (DfES,2005) that an additional £220 million over three years was to be made available for school meals and training,and £60m for a School Food Trust which would prepare guidance.She also emphasised that the programme of building and refurbishment of schools would ensure that high quality kitchen facilities were available for the cooking of fresh food. She drew attention (DfES,2005a) to the existing reviews of school meals in secondary and primary schools,the fresh fruit scheme,the Food in Schools (FiS) programme and guidance for schools on the 8whole school 9 approach (the Healthy Living Blueprint,2004).The government also announced that Ofsted would review the quality of school meals as part of regular inspections from September 2005 despite having earlier rejected this approach in response to such a recommendation from the Commons Education and Employment Committee (DfES,2000). A new School Meals Review Panel started work in May 2005 with a remit to develop and recommend new nutritional standards.UNISON represents school catering staff on the panel, which will 8strongly consider the introduction of nutrient-based nutritional standards,using the Caroline Walker Trust guidelines as a starting point 9 but are reminded 8to bear in mind issues of cost and implementation 9 (DfES,2005).It will report in September 2005 and a consultation period will follow.<br><br> 14 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY CAMPAIGNING FOR HIGH QUALITY SCHOOL MEALS The labour movement has been at the forefront of the struggle for a decent school meals service in Britain.It is part of the long tradition of collective responses to individual problems.As Wales first minister Rhodri Morgan pointed out,the school meals movement was not simply a battle against malnutrition: c& the Fabian Society launched its pamphlet And They Shall Have Flowers on the Table in Cardiff at the turn of the last century.The title of that pamphlet made it clear that school dinners were to be a social and educational experience,as well as one which provided food for families where that was badly needed d Morgan,2002. The 1906 Bill to introduce school meals was proposed by a Labour MP (Gustafsson, 2002).It became the 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act and was part of a range of social legislation (including reforms relating to occupational health,housing and national insurance) brought in by the Liberal government.Fred Jowett,elected Labour MP for Bradford in 1906,made his maiden speech on school meals saying: 8Education on an empty stomach is a waste of time 9.The Liberals overcame their fear that provision of school meals could undermine family responsibilities because,as Young (2002) points out: 8the Liberal politicians of that period were& nervous about the developing labour movement 9.To a certain extent these reforms were a response to trade union pressure from outside Parliament. Although the 1944 Education Act was passed during the wartime coalition,its implementation took place under the reforming Labour governments of 1945-51.Trade union influence ensured that the promises of a 8cradle to grave 9 welfare state were put into practice through the legislation of that period.Strong trade unions were an important factor in the post war political consensus that existed over the welfare state even during the long period of Conservative rule from 1951 to 1964.<br><br> Trade unions joined a broad coalition of organisations in the School Meals Campaign to try to combat the deregulation and dismantling of the service after 1979.In the early 1990s,it published a series of booklets and a school meals charter. Since 1997 and the election of a new Labour administration,expectations have risen among unions and other reformers that the school meals service can be revitalised. Devolution has also provided space for the devolved administrations to develop their own reform of school meals working with UNISON and other campaigning organisations.<br><br> This included a Free School Meals campaign in Scotland around the School Meals (Scotland) Bill.Although the Bill was not passed,the debate it provoked was undoubtedly a factor in the Scottish Executive increasing funding for school meals,adopting a requirement for detailed nutritional standards to be introduced and setting up monitoring mechanisms (Young et al,2005). At Westminster,UNISON with about 140 other bodies,is supporting the Children 9s Food Bill.It aims to ban junk food advertising aimed at children and unhealthy school vending and to promote healthy eating education,cooking skills and quality school meals. In September 2004,UNISON launched its Appetite for Life campaign which aims to improve the quality of school meals.<br><br> 15 UNISON 9S APPETITE FOR LIFE Ï free school meals for all primary school children Ï an extension of free school meals in secondary schools to all children living in poverty, provided in a cashless,integrated service Ï hot cmade from scratch dlunches served in a socially conducive dining environment Ï nutrient-based standards set by the Food Standards Agency,restricting additives and contaminants and inspected by Ofsted Ï whole school food policies including a breakfast service; healthy snacks at after-school clubs,fresh fruit,milk and water availability and curriculum changes to include nutritional studies and practical food skills Ï a ban on the sale of unhealthy food and drink in vending machines and on or by school premises Ï catering staff employed on terms and conditions and in patterns that recognise their skills and value Ï a return of the public health role for the school meals service,which should be the responsibility of the children 9s director,using locally sourced food,directly provided. UNISON,September 2004 16 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY 17 School meals today In England and Wales there are 8.1 million pupils on the rolls and 45% of them use the school meals service.This is the equivalent of 663 million school meals a year.Every school day,nearly 3.5 million meals are served to English and Welsh school pupils (3.25 million in England and 235,000 in Wales).Based on the total expenditure by parents and LEAs on school meals in England and Wales,the market is worth almost £1 billion (LACA,2004).Morgan and Morley (2003) point out that the figure is even higher 3 reaching £1.3 billion 3 if the food and drink bought going to and from school is included. In January 2004,there were 7,712,600 pupils on the rolls of maintained nursery,primary, secondary and all special schools in England.Of those 1,251,540 were eligible for free school meals but only 987,180 were taking them (DfES/Office for National Statistics (ONS),2004).<br><br> In Scotland,of around 665,000 pupils,48.7% use the school meals service or approximately 325,000 pupils.Of those eligible for a free school meal,71% took a meal on the day of the school census (Scottish Executive,2002). The UK government does not collect data on either the cost of school meals across the country or the amount spent on the food content of school meals.Individual local authorities publish details within their annual budget statements of the funds delegated to schools for school meals provision but do not break the figures down to provide details of the amount spent on food content (Hansard,2005a).Neither does the government collect data on the numbers of children eating hot school meals (Hansard,2004). However,a survey by the Soil Association revealed that 75% of English primary schools are spending less than 50p on food for each school meal,and many spend less than 40p (Lawrence, 2005).<br><br> The education secretary 9s announcement at the end of March 2005 (DfES,2005) promised that in England at least 50p per pupil per day will be spent on meals in all primary schools and 60p in secondary schools.However as was pointed out by Rodney Bickerstaffe,former UNISON general secretary,the minimum spent on school meals at primary level before the Conservatives abolished statutory local authority provision was 19p per child 3 or the equivalent of 58p today. By contrast in Scotland,the BBC recently reported (BBC News online,2005) a survey of Scottish schools showing that 66.2p was already being spent on average on primary school meals and 72.1p in secondary schools.Glasgow council reportedly allocates between 70p and £1 for each school meal (Lawrence,2005a). Meanwhile it is claimed that caterers are unlikely to be able to meet the nutrient-based standards favoured by nutritionists if they spend less than 70p on ingredients per pupil in primary schools,and 80p per pupil in secondary schools (2005 prices) (Caroline Walker Trust and the National Heart Forum,2005).Although the government has pledged an additional £220 million over three years in England,the Soil Association estimates that £200 million is needed every year just for primary schools if England and Wales are to match the investment and programme of change that is occurring in Scotland.This figure would allow the current average ingredient spend to be doubled for 70 per cent of all English and Welsh primary school children.<br><br> However the Soil Association also claims that further expenditure would then be needed to improve kitchens and dining halls,to train catering staff and teachers,to develop local supply chains and farm visits and to gradually expand school meal uptake to all primary school children (Soil Association,2003). 18 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY The school meals market The three big private contractors in the school meals market are Scolarest (a subsidiary of UK- based multinational,Compass),Sodexho,a French multinational and Initial (a part of British multinational Rentokil-Initial). There are various estimates as to how much of the market each of the top three control.<br><br> According to the Observer,(Gordon,2005),Scolarest leads with Initial next and Sodexho as the third largest provider. Scolarest provides meals for 2,000 state primary and secondary schools (Revill and Hill,2005) and feeds one in ten British school children (Macalister,2005) There are also a number of different assessments of the share of provision between in-house providers and private contractors. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates that the number of state education contracts run by commercial companies fell by 351 in 2004 as a result of insufficient funding.According to the BHA,contract caterers now hold a market share of 25.9%,compared with 27.4% in 2003 (Caterer and Hotelkeeper,2005).<br><br> In 2004,it was estimated that in England 66% of the school meals market was provided by councils 9 in house service; 2% was self operated; 10% by Scolarest; 8% by Initial; 3% by Sodexho; and 11% by other private contractors.In Scotland 95% was provided in-house,and just 5% by private contractors (Walker,2004). The fact that there are so few serious competitors in the school meals market is a problem for local authorities.The position is even worse for schools or local authorities in rural areas. Camden education department 9s head of contracts,Ian Patterson,believes that the lack of real competition weakens his negotiating position.Camden had only two bidders the last time its school meals went out to tender and only one of those came in on budget.Patterson says:"The level of genuine competition in the school meals market is very small.It is a complex service and there are financial barriers to entry& By contrast,when we tender for cleaning contracts we will have upwards of 20 expressions of interest 9 (Quarmby,2005).<br><br> A study of school meals funding delegation (Storey and Candappa.2004) found that despite the possibilities of delegation,in practice many found only a limited choice of suppliers.Small schools might be expected to struggle to make themselves commercially attractive to large contractors but even large secondary schools reported problems. The most authoritative source for market share is the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA),which claims that the school meals market in England and Wales is worth nearly £1 billion (calculated by adding the total expenditure by parents and LEAs on school meals).LACA reports that 69% of the catering contracts in English primary schools and 97% in Wales are operated by the council 9s in-house provider.In primary schools in England,22% are operated by the larger private contractors and 9% by smaller operators or are self-operated.In English secondary schools,60% of catering contracts are provided by in-house teams and in Wales the figure is 95%.24% of English secondary contracts are run by the larger private contractors,5% are self-operated and 11% by other smaller contractors (LACA,2004). The largest contractors are multinational companies and the lack of competition means that they operate within the market with distinct advantages over the smaller operators.The multinationals look for economies of scale.Therefore,it makes commercial sense for them to favour large scale food processing ( 8industrial 9 food production methods).However,what makes good commercial sense for the shareholders of multinational companies may not reflect the interests of the users of the school meals service.<br><br> 19 Markets,competitionandchange: the road to the turkey twizzler After the 1944 Education Act brought in the modern school meals service,there was little change in fundamentals until 1980.From the 1973 oil crisis onwards there had been a growing questioning of the role of the state and public spending but it took the election of the Thatcher government in 1979 to sharply change the direction of the school meals service from a welfare service to a revenue-generating commercial operation. It has been argued that the school meals service failed to respond to social changes taking place in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s (Bone,1992) and it is certainly true that uptake had already begun to decline before the start of the Conservative assault (Gustafsson,2004).The increased popularity and availability of fast food,the decline of the 8family meal 9 and the increased tendency to 8graze 9 are all identified as reasons for the beginning of a decline in take up (Bone, 1992).However,despite the rhetoric about choice and value for money,of much more significance was the drive to break up public services and to introduce markets. The key developments were: Ï deregulation of the labour market,including abolition of the Fair Wages Resolution Ï deregulation of school meals under the 1980 Education Act; Ï compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) and its replacement,Best Value (BV); Ï the private finance initiative (PFI); and Ï delegated funding for school meals under the Fair Funding initiative These various programmes and the general public expenditure cutbacks of the 1980s and 1990s combined to create a devastating impact on the school meals service 3 particularly on staffing, facilities and ingredients that,in turn,caused a crisis in quality.Both the costs of labour and food were driven down under the pressure of CCT and other initiatives for cheap meals.<br><br> The effects on staff The school meals service is almost entirely managed and staffed by part time women and has been consistently undervalued as a result.Catering staff have been affected by the changes in school meals in terms of jobs,pay,conditions,hours of work and training,as well as a process of deskilling as the work organisation of school meals has changed. Jobs The 1980 act had a big effect on staffing.With the removal of the statutory duty to provide school meals and reduced expenditure,many local authorities cut staff,some even abolished their school meals service altogether (Kelliher and McKenna,1988). One estimate claims that 50,000 school meals jobs were lost between the passage of the Act and May 1983 (cited in Kelliher and McKenna,1988).<br><br> The impact of CCT on school catering staff was equally dramatic.Substantial job losses took place and some local authorities reduced terms and conditions in advance of CCT and as a result of the tendering process: 8The threat of competition was used by management to negotiate changes with the trade unions 9 (Escott and Whitfield,1995). 20 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY THE SPIRAL OF DECLINE Ï under investment in school kitchens and staff Ï pursuit of the cheapest option in the name of Best Value Ï cheap = poor menus over reliant on processed foods Ï rising fat,sugar,salt and additive load in child 9s diet Ï rising parental anxiety about junk food and behaviour Ï drop in school meal numbers as more opt for packed lunches Ï substitution of fresh food by processed snack items Ï free school lunch consumers become more visible or 8exposed 9 Ï decline in numbers claiming free school meals Ï potential decline in overall health and nutrition of all pupils Ï loss of viability for the hot meals service Ï lack of management time among school heads or governors Ï pressure for more teaching space Ï closure of kitchens Ï narrowing of lunchtime food choices Ï loss of opportunity to try new cooked foods Ï introduction of sandwich service only Ï further decline in numbers Ï downgrading of lunch experience to 8refuelling 9 Ï downgrading of nutrition delivered to the most vulnerable children Ï loss of socialisation opportunities associated with eating at table Ï poor attention and behaviour in afternoon classes undermines attainment. Source: Soil Association (2003) Food for Life:healthy,local,organic school meals Hours As secondary schools increasingly moved to cash cafeterias after the 1980 Act,there were implications for the working hours for staff.One study found that the contracts of the kitchen staff,became 8variable 9 so that the working hours increase or decrease with the demand for meals (Kelliher and McKenna,1988).<br><br> In fact the widespread reduction in hours was perhaps as significant as any overall job losses. The employment of more part time and casual staff meant that fewer qualified for employment protection,and that employers could cut down on their national insurance expenditure.There were attacks on the holiday retainer formerly paid to school meals staff by both contractors and local authorities.This amounted to a severe pay cut for many catering staff 3 in some cases up to 25% of income (Escott and Whitfield,1995). Pay In a study of catering contractors at about the time the 1988 Local Government Act was going through parliament (Kelliher and McKenna,1988),one contractor commented: 8A contractor can effect savings only by the way in which it deploys staff and by the rates of pay and conditions of service offered to staff 9.<br><br> Contractors usually paid less than the local government rate (particularly to unskilled workers).A 21 greater use of casuals,an emphasis on local rates for the job rather than acceptance of national rates and decentralised pay bargaining (where bargaining existed at all) were all favoured by contractors (Kelliher and McKenna,1987).However,the main difference was not in changes to basic pay but to other elements of the pay system.Bonus schemes and overtime were reassessed,and usually consolidated into the overall pay package.Where it existed,holiday pay and sick pay was far less generous,as was pension provision.After the Jobseekers Act in 1995, catering workers also became ineligible for benefit during unpaid school holidays (UNISON,2002). After strong union campaigns in the 1990s,legal decisions on the application of the European Acquired Rights Directive through the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations extended a limited degree of protection to those workers transferred to the private sector when their jobs were contracted out.Pensions protection has also since improved and contractors are now expected to provide a 8comparable 9 pension scheme to transferees. However,there is no guarantee against change over time and new employees were completely unprotected.<br><br> A two-tier workforce was created in which workers who transferred from the public sector to a private contractor retained their pay and conditions upon transfer.But new employees of the contractor could receive completely different (almost always worse) pay and conditions to their co-workers.Colleagues doing the same job,working side by side,found themselves paid different wages with different conditions,dependent on whether they had been transferred from the local authority when the service was contracted out. Following intense lobbying by the trade unions,the government pledged to end the two tier workforce.In 2003 the Best Value Code of Practice on Workforce Matters was introduced into local government in England,with similar provisions in Wales whilst in Scotland a protocol was agreed for public private partnerships.These agreements provided greater protections for the pay and conditions of new employees on all new contracts. Progress has often been resisted by contractors.Predictably they criticised the code,claiming that there is too much risk and red tape involved in transferring pension pots (Mullen and Walker, 2004).However,there appears to be general compliance with the code in new contracts.<br><br> This does not alter the position of the 110,000 school meals staff who are still suffering the legacy of 20 years of cuts and contracting out.David Taylor MP recently pointed out that the average weekly wage for school kitchen staff remains about £82 (Hansard,2005b). Deskilling A spiral of decline links cuts in funding,a decline in cooking from fresh (prime cooking),an increase in the use of processed food,a deterioration in quality of school meals and the deskilling of catering staff. In many schools,catering staff do virtually no fresh food preparation. 8Regeneration 9 kitchens reheat cook-chill dishes made on a different day in a different place.Skilled cooking has largely been replaced by a factory style regime of adding water,defrosting,reheating or assembling ready prepared ingredients and processed food with excessive amounts of salt,fat,sugar, colourants,Xavourings and preservatives (Soil Association,2003).It inevitably leads to deskilling in the kitchen.<br><br> Former school cook Jeanette Orrey,now an adviser for the Soil Association,says that in such a system 8all you'll need is a pair of scissors and some tongs& You'll just cut open a packet of shapes,put them on a baking tray in the oven,take them out and serve them.That's it:job done 9 (Ward,2005). The legacy of such an approach 3 often driven by competitive tendering 3 is self perpetuating. With a deskilled workforce,it is difficult to move back to a system where meals are cooked from scratch (Morgan and Morley,2003) even if the will exists.<br><br> Training Training becomes of vital importance.Unfortunately,training also became a victim of cutbacks. The government concedes that there is very little training available for catering staff (DfES,2004). 22 SCHOOL MEALS, MARKETS AND QUALITY A study of school meals in English secondary schools (Nelson et al,2004) commissioned by DfES and the FSA found that only one quarter of staff responsible for the provision of school catering had any type of training in 8healthy eating or cooking 9 in the previous 12 months.<br><br> Perhaps not surprisingly,most head cooks and catering managers were unable to name three or more of the current standards. The effects on facilities One of the immediate effects of the removal of the statutory duty to provide school meals was that many local authorities withdrew from hot meal provision altogether.Kitchens were stripped out and converted to other use.Dining rooms were reclaimed or became dual purpose. According to the Soil Association (2003),a large number of English local authorities (including Dorset,East Sussex,Hillingdon,Kingston,Northampton,Somerset (part),Buckinghamshire, Harrow,Hereford & Worcester,North Lincolnshire,Lincolnshire (part)) took this option,serving only sandwiches.<br><br> The removal of national nutritional standards opened up other options for cost cutting.Cash cafeterias became increasingly common (Young et al,2005) in secondary schools and CCT attracted the interest of private contractors. With the removal of standards and the squeeze on costs (exacerbated by CCT) it became not only possible but essential to look for production methods and service techniques that would reduce the cost of labour.The government encouraged the use of cook/chill and cook/freeze technology (Kelliher and McKenna,1987).Cash cafeterias became common in secondary schools (Young et al,2005) and were also in tune with government thinking about efficiency, consumer choice and waste reduction (Gustafsson,2002).This exacerbated the trend towards the deskilling of the workforce and the decline in nutritional value of school meals. In turn,the increased use of processed,convenience food meant that full production kitchens were not necessary so they were 8rationalised 9 and many were closed (Kelliher and McKenna 1988).<br><br> The changes were not without problems.In 2000,Fair Funding brought in the delegation of school meals budgets in England as part of the 1999 Local Government Act (Storey and Candappa,2004).Under the new regulations all English secondary schools received mandatory delegation.This reform was optional for primary and special schools,but many authorities delegated funding for meals to all schools. While some head teachers welcomed this and saw it as a way of escaping from the problems associated with private contractors,many did not realise the implications in relation to kitchen and dining area infrastructure (Storey and Candappa,2004).Before delegation,LEAs were able to operate a rolling programme of repairs and renewal.Under delegation,the relatively small budget for maintenance and replacement was simply divided up among all schools in the authority.This was something of a shock for some head teachers 3 particularly those whose school kitchens or dining areas were in need of repair.It was especially a problem for smaller schools in rural areas. PFI and school catering Introduction The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is being used for the building and refurbishment of hundreds of schools across the UK.Unfortunately the inflexibility of PFI is already becoming apparent with many school kitchens built without the facility to cook food from fresh.Given the promises made by the government and the emphasis on the need for a school meals service that encourages healthy eating,this is a serious setback.<br><br> At the end of March 2005,education secretary Ruth Kelly told television viewers that 8significant money 9 was now going into schools and specifically into kitchen facilities.She said that schools: 23 8will be able to cook freshly prepared ingredients.They will be able to prepare vegetables,they will be able to serve it to children,and we will see a really dramatic increase in the quality of food in school dinners that are served,particularly in those areas where they are not currently serving good school dinners at the moment 9 (Curtis,2005). In May the DfES reported that the government will invest £5.5 billion in 2005-06 improving secondary school buildings in England,rising to £6.3 billion in 2007-08.Additional funding of £650 million has also been announced for primary schools and 8new or upgraded school kitchen facilities where fresh produce can be prepared and served will be made a priority through the current school rebuilding and refurbishment programmes 9 (DfES,2005a). The need certainly exists.The Soil Association says this is a result of 820 years of savage under- investment 9.After deregulation in 1980,many school kitchens and dining areas were allowed to run down if not close completely.Catering equipment is also often out of date and totally inadequate to meet modern healthy eating requirements (Soil Association,2003).<br><br> However there is increasing concern that the methods of investment preferr