A SHAKE-UP in school meal regulation is being welcomed on Wearside.
Schools will have to serve at least one portion of vegetables each day and no more than two portions of fried food each week.
The school food plan, designed to promote healthy eating, will be mandatory from January next year for local authority schools, new free schools and schools that convert to academies.
Other requirements will include at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week, an emphasis on wholegrain foods, drinking water and limiting fruit juice portions, restricting the amount of added sugars in other drinks and no more than two portions of food that include pastry each week.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has welcomed the move to improve food health for children.
She said: “As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on school food, I’ve worked closely with those behind these new standards and those advising them, so I know they’re based on the best possible evidence and thorough research and I’m confident that they will see the quality of school food improve still further.
“My priority now is that these standards should apply to all schools – not just those still in local authority control.
“The Government have said they won’t force any of the academies already created under their watch to comply with them, but I’m hoping we can convince the majority of them to sign up voluntarily.”
Pauline Wood, headteacher at Grange Park Primary School in Sunderland, said she too welcomed the regulations, but added the school already implements the majority of them.
She said: “I can’t sing the praises highly enough of the Sunderland School Meals Service. The food is excellent at our school, we have a great cook and kitchen staff.
“The children are really keen to try new foods and this will not be a big change for us.”
She said the vast majority of the pupils eat school meals and for the few who bring packed lunch, there is a strict ban on certain items, such as chocolate, which is taken out of the lunch box and parents told to collect it at home time.