LACA chair's campaigns pledge on UIFSM and fast food

LACA Autumn Business Seminar
Michael Hales addresses members at the LACA Autumn Business Seminar
20/11/2018 - 09:46
School meals organisation LACA will be focusing on two issues over the coming year – universal infant free school meals and fast food restaurants near schools members were told at the organisation's Autumn Business Seminar in Stratford upon Avon.

Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) chair Michael Hales told members that the organisation will be concentrating its fire power on campaigning to expand the scope of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and on tackling the growing number of fast food restaurants springing up close to school gates.

“We want to see UIFSM extended to all primary school children and we urgently want a review of the £2.30 paid for the delivery of every meal under the scheme.

“And we want to try to do something about the vast number of fast food outlets that operate near schools. We know their target market, in fact some don’t even bother to open during the day when the schools break up for the holidays, so it couldn’t be clearer.”

In Wales, where the assembly has backed a school breakfast programme rather than UIFSM, he says LACA will be supporting the breakfast club initiative.

He also shared some thoughts about the structure of LACA, pointing out that the chair is only in place for a year and this provides very little time to settle into the role and achieve anything.

Perhaps, he suggested, the association should consider employing a chief executive officer to support the chair each year.

And he also wondered allowed if LACA should retain its name. “Is it worth considering changing it to something like the School Lunch Association, which more clearly explains what we do?’

“I want to build on the LACA accreditation we have already begun with the menu checker scheme, looking at four main areas – food, sustainability, compliance, and people.

“We name to have an offer that provides more value to members, something that appeals particularly to academies and MATs [multi academy trusts].”

He also flagged up to delegates at the Autumn Seminar on November 16th an upcoming episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, in which the hosts Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Docherty planned to campaign about making school food standards compulsory for academies rather than merely advisory.

“We were worried when we first heard about it that the wrong message might be pushed. They wanted to use a ‘rate your meal’ hashtag, but we’re had a meeting and they’ve agreed to use #healthymeals instead.”

The episode in question is due to be aired on Channel 4 on December 14th.

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