School Lunch Take up 2010-2011 Keeping Children Healthy

Date: 12 Oct 2011

School Lunch Take up 2010-2011 – Keeping Children Healthy

On the 7th July 2011, the results of the 2010-2011 national school lunch take up survey were published.  A statistical release and a full survey report, based on take up data and other contextual information provided by Local Authorities as part of the School Food Trust (SFT) and Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) annual survey, were provided to all Local Authorities in the South West.

We hope that this information will be included in Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) to inform and guide decision making around children’s food. We also hope that health and wellbeing board members will acknowledge the importance of children’s food and make it a priority.

At a national level, school lunch take up in England continues to increase. On average, 44.1% of primary school pupils and 37.6% of secondary school pupils had a school lunch each day between April 2010 and March 2011, increases of 2.7 and 1.8 percentage points respectively compared with 2009-2010. Since 2008-2009, we have now seen a total rise in take up of 4.8% in the primary sector, and 2.6% in the secondary sector. 

This means that since 2008, over a quarter of a million more children are eating a school lunch. We are in no doubt that this increase in school lunch take up is due to the dedication of all those involved in the school workforce who have worked hard to bring about real improvements in the quality of school food provision.

These figures show that the provision of healthy food in schools can be popular with pupils. At the same time, it is important to recognize that many schools and caterers still have an uphill struggle to engage with pupils and parents to increase the take up of healthy meals at lunchtime. On average, take up of school lunches is still below 50%. This means that over half of pupils in schools in England are either taking packed lunches to school (which are known to be less healthy) or eating off school premises (which is likely to be less healthy still). While the increases in take up reported here are encouraging, there is no room for complacency. Much more needs to be done to ensure that the percentage of pupils taking school lunches continues to increase in the years to come.

The School Food Trust can now provide consultancy services to help improve school meal take up in your local authority. We use our years of experience, working with thousands of schools across the country, to deliver low-cost, practical solutions to increase the numbers of pupils eating school food. Our expertise ranges from improving kitchen and dining spaces to increasing free school meal take up and marketing campaigns for the modest budget.

We are starting to set up a number of regional children and young people’s food support networks with a regional lead, and the South West is one of the pathfinder regions. The contact for the SW is Maggie Sims, and she can be contacted by email maggie.sims@sft.gsi.gov.uk   Maggie would be pleased to receive any thoughts or suggestions you have regarding the support, information or advice you might need