Food and Behaviour Research

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25 July 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The Food Programme: School Food

Sheila Dillon follows two schools as they attempt to transform the way their pupils eat.

Summer term comes to an end. Time off for the dinner staff and caterers who’ve been dishing out 3 million meals a day for the last year.  Food in schools is a story that hit the headlines in 2004 and it hasn’t gone away.

(Jamie Oliver):  "You know, we’ve got 5 and half million kids in this country; 24,000 schools, we have to be philosophical; we have to keep supporting it; we have to know and do what’s best for our kids.  What’s exciting is that it will come up again, and it will come up again with good Heads and good dinner ladies that are being supported properly".

(Sheila Dillon):  "Jamie Oliver’s faith that our disastrous experiment with fast, cheap food in schools could be turned around, is now grounded in reality.  His charisma and truth telling on tv, along with the government cash and support that followed, brought about dramatic changes in the importance given to food in school.  Thousands of dinner ladies were trained to cook real food.  The multi-national catering companies lost contracts; schools set up their own kitchen operations and nearly 4000 schools bought into the idea that food could at the heart of the curriculum.

This year, there are a quarter of a million more children eating school dinners than the year before.  But will all this survive the drastic cuts in public spending."

In this programme, Sheila Dillon talks to staff and children in two schools who have been part of the big change, and the programme plan's to follow their progress over the next year.