Friday, February 17, 2006

Another school meals scandal

New Labour makes you sick - again. Having made a big fuss in public about supporting Jamie Oliver's campaign to improve school meals, behind the scenes they allow the food corporations to regain influence:

"... The School Food Trust has only just been established and it is supposed to help schools make the change to healthier eating. Given Kelly's promises, however, its composition is surprising: there are no nutritionists among its 16 members, nor is there anyone representing teachers, parents' groups or health charities. Only two members belong to charities working in schools.

In fact, the largest group represented on the trust is private and local-authority caterers. The government, in other words, has devolved responsibility for improving catering in schools to the very organisations responsible for serving up food condemned as "a scandal" by the Education Secretary herself.
The identity of the chair of this subcommittee may also come as a surprise. He is Paul Kelly, corporate affairs director of Compass Group plc, which is not only the largest food-service company in the world but also, incidentally, one of the biggest names in school catering and the vending-machine business.
The industry is pushing choice - always a seductive word for new Labour. But the danger is that the commercial version of choice, if it is not challenged forcefully now, will debase the whole healthy- eating initiative in schools and rob Ruth Kelly's sweeping promises of last year of much of their value for children.

Joe Harvey sums up the position: 'The major multinationals are in the business of delivering profits for the companies and dividends to shareholders. We in education and health are in the business of giving children the best possible nutrition. It's a simple divide. Don't let the companies undermine this opportunity.' "

Katharine Quarmby, New Statesman, Monday 20th February 2006


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