Hertfordshire’s winning formula for school meals

HOW do you remember your school meals? A plateful of slop, with some indescribable pudding?

Well, yes me too!

However it’s not like that in Hertfordshire any more apparently – for record numbers of the county’s children are enjoying their school meals, according to the most recent national league tables.

The annual school meals survey for 2009-10 by the School Food Trust and the Local Authority Caterers Association, shows that Hertfordshire has the highest percentage of primary school children (44.5) opting for dishes served by the dinner ladies.

The results of the survey, which covers 152 local authorities in England, show that only five authorities provide meals for more than 400 schools and more than a third of Hertfordshire’s primaries have a take-up of 48 per cent and above, while the national average is 41.4 per cent.

Figures for Hertfordshire’s secondary schools are also up – 36.3 per cent – compared with the England par of 35.8 per cent.

Lin O’Brien, head of Hertfordshire Catering, said: “These results show that we are getting the message across that school meals offer children a healthy and tasty meal at lunchtime, which parents are appreciating represents great value for money.

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“Eating habits are formed early, the benefits of encouraging young people and children to make healthier, balanced food choices are far reaching, and in Hertfordshire we are on course for promoting this.

“By using good quality foods, listening to what our young customers say and responding to feedback from recipe trials in schools, we are able to develop menus which are not only nutritionally sound but are designed to ensure children enjoy school meals.”

Richard Thake, executive member for Education and Skills, said: “School meals have an important role to play in developing healthy eating habits.

“These latest figures are a huge achievement and demonstrate the commitment of Hertfordshire’s catering team to providing children with tasty and nutritious meals.”

The new primary menu will be launched in October with a range of new recipes and some traditional favourites such as Wednesday Roast Day.