Oliver famously campaigned for healthy food standards to be implemented in schools throughout England – a move that prompted the removal of vending machines containing confectionary from schools, and school lunches meeting strict nutritional guidelines.
However, Oliver has now accused current Education Secretary Michael Gove of allowing these standards to slip with many of England’s new ‘academy’ schools not having to meet the standards that Oliver worked to have put in place.
The government have said that it trusts academy schools to implement their own healthy eating standards if they feel it is in the best interests of their pupils, and has no reason to believe that they will not provide meals which don’t meet the current national standards – a comment which was met with a stormy response from Oliver.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast News he commented, “The bit of work that we did which is law was a good bit of work for any government.”
“So to erode it, which is essentially what Mr Gove is doing – his view is we let schools do what they want.”
Oliver’s campaign was documented in his TV show ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ and famously sparked a row between himself and a small number of parents who disagreed with his proposed healthy changes and took to passing sweets and treats through the school railings.
Despite meeting a small amount of opposition, Oliver’s proposed changes were generally seen as positive and the law was tightened for primary schools in 2008 and for secondary schools in 2009 so that school lunches had to meet certain nutritional guidelines.
However, semi-independent English academies do not have to meet these regulations and as more and more schools plan on converting to academy status this could mean that standards start to slip once again.
Apparently some academies have already asked catering companies to relax the rules and restock the vending machines with unhealthy foods.
In response to these claims, chairman of the School Food Trust Rob Ree’s has said that he is concerned about the reports of standards being relaxed and wants to hear from anyone with concerns that an academy is choosing not to meet the national standards.
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