Consultation on new nutritional standards (2020)
The Department of Education is seeking views on proposals to update the nutritional standards of food provided in grant-aided schools.
Education Minister Peter Weir launched the consultation, Update to Nutritional Standards for School Food on Thursday 30 January. The consultation will run until Friday 27 March.
It is planned, subject to the outcome of this consultation and the availability of funding that these changes will be implemented with effect from September 2020.
Schools must take a 'whole school approach' to all the food and drink that is provided and consumed in school and develop children and young people's skills and knowledge in relation to healthy eating and lifestyles outside of school.
We recognise our role in influencing the eating habits of young children whilst in school. A healthy menu that encourages the children to eat the right food will certainly help them to continue a healthy pattern as they grow up.
School catering is involved in promoting a healthier diet across all services, these include:
- Breakfast clubs
- Healthy breaks
- Compliance with nutritional standards for school lunches
- Water in schools
When the school catering service provides lunches they must keep to rules, known as ‘the standards’, that have been set out about what types of food to provide, and how often. Nutritional standards for school meals and other food in schools are based on the five food groups in the Eatwell Guide.
A Healthy Diet for Children
For children aged five and over a healthy diet broadly means:
- a balanced diet with plenty of variety and enough energy for growth and development;
- plenty of starchy (carbohydrate-containing) foods such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, choosing wholegrain or higher fibre versions where possible;
- plenty of fruit and vegetables;
- moderate amounts of milk products;
- moderate amounts of meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein;
- limited amounts of foods containing a lot of fat, especially saturated fat;
- limited amounts of sugary foods and drinks occasionally
- regular drinks to avoid becoming dehydrated and tried, choosing lower sugar options such as water and low fat milk
The Eatwell guide does not apply to children under two years of age because they have different nutritional needs. Between the ages of two and five, however, there should be a gradual transition to a healthy diet.
For further information on nutritional standards for school food please click on the links below.