BANT calls for removal of ultra-processed foods from school meals to combat poverty related malnutrition
Today in Parliament, the possibility of free school meals is going back on the Parliamentary agenda thanks to Lord Bassam.
Whilst the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) supports the idea that children who live in poverty should be helped and nourished, the organisation notes a sound of warning that the infiltration of ultra-processed, industrial foods into school canteens, is actively harming the health of the next generation and costing the British economy billions.
Complaints about school food have always existed and the memory of paper-thin slices of roast, usually identifiable by the sauce that accompanied it, served with two vegetables, followed by a starchy pudding and custard, is not that far behind. The nutritious offering of this meal was, however, far and beyond more complete than the foods being served in school canteens up and down the country today.
Changing school food in isolation is difficult, children and parents resist the change, particularly with the pressures of advertising, fast food outlets and even industrial food giants offering free school materials, that our children are constantly exposed to. The time, however, is right. With climate change, health and nutrition so intertwined and children leading the charge on these topics, there is a real opportunity to galvanise a whole generation to improve their health, whilst saving the planet. Government policy urgently needs to support this ground-swell and to resist the constant industrial pressures that serve the interests of profits over health and wellbeing.
BANT also continues to call for the reintroduction of Home Economics classes. Teaching school children simple, cost-effective dishes that they can cook at home will give them the tools of a lifetime to combat poverty related malnutrition. For the future health of the children, the country and the planet, the most important thing for us to do now is to turn our backs on industrial pressure and ultra-processed foods.