Pupils at 11 West Sussex special schools will start 2015 enjoying meals guaranteed to comply with new school food standards.
The schools are among the first in the country to have their menus approved by the Children’s Food Trust’s new menu checking service, which is being rolled out across the UK.
The service gives schools and caterers an easy way to make sure their menus are compliant with the new legal requirements, which came into force on Thursday 1 January 2015.
The approved menus will display a special logo to show that they comply with the standards and the accreditation will be reviewed twice a year when the menu changes.
Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “It is important to us to ensure that all meals in our schools are served to a high quality and it is great to see that we are achieving this in our special schools.
“A lot of pupils at these schools have complex dietary issues and this accreditation process gives us peace of mind that we are meeting their requirements, while also meeting the new food standards.
“The meals served at these schools are freshly prepared and cooked by County Council staff, on site in the schools.
“And as part of our focus on meeting the new standards, from January we will only be using seafood which has been caught using sustainable fishing practices. That means as well as improving food quality, we are also improving our ethical sourcing policy.”
The new standards are based on food groups rather than nutritional values and provide school caterers with a broad framework that will allow them to be more creative about the food they prepare. The emphasis is on the standards being accessible, easy to understand and apply, as well as ensuring tasty and healthy meals are served to children.
The need for new standards came about following the School Food Plan, an independent review which found that schools considered existing school food standards difficult to understand and use, particularly the nutritional analysis of recipes and menus.
Meals at County Council schools served by other contractors, such as Chartwells, also meet the food based and quality standards set by the School Food Plan.