Nutritionally balanced meals could be provided for primary school children the future, if a £200,000 two-year pilot project at two primary schools proves a success.
Officers within Children, Young People, Education and Skills have partnered with the charity Caring Cooks and colleagues across Health and Community Services and Strategic Policy, Performance and Population to design the new approach that will aim to support the dietary needs of primary school children.
The project, which will launch in the autumn term at Samarès and Janvrin, has been designed as a universal programme with the aim of providing consistent nutritious food during the school day.
It will cost £2.50 for a main meal, dessert and drink, and some children will be eligible for a free meal.
Pictured: Nutritious meals will help reduce obesity risks among children.
Martin Knight, Director of Public Health Policy, said that providing nutritious for children will have a significant impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and will help reduce their risks of becoming obese, or developing illnesses like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
“Putting the onus on busy parents to provide packed lunches that meet nutritional guidelines is challenging and doesn’t always lead to consistent positive outcomes for children," he added. "Many schools have done good work with parents to improve the standards of packed school lunches but we know that some lunches still contain high levels of sodium, sugar and saturated fats.
“The school meal project, if successful, will allow us to intervene early in children’s lives to help them to develop positive dietary habits that they can continue into adulthood.”
Pictured: The Education Minister said there is growing evidence that a good diet and nutrition improves student performance.
The Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, commented: “We are committed to putting children first, as well as improving islanders’ health and wellbeing. It is important that children have daily access to healthy nutritious food while at school; there is growing evidence that a good diet and nutrition improves student performance.
"Learning how to eat healthily will also support children’s overall health as they grow up, and help give them the best possible educational start.”
The pilot will be trialled for two years in order to assess the impact of the meals before looking at whether it can be rolled out at all primary schools. If the project is successful, the programme will then be extended and go out to tender.
The Chief Executive Officer of Caring Cooks, a charity set up to promote and encourage healthy eating among young people from an early age, welcomed the news of the trial.
Pictured: Caring Cooks will be cooking the meals for pupils during the two-year trial.
Melissa Nobrega said: “We applaud the Government of Jersey for undertaking this initiative and we look forward to employing the team that will prepare and deliver the food each day to the schools taking part in the pilot. We hope the trial will show the value of providing nutritious, balanced school meals to children as part of their wellbeing and that, as a result, the scheme will be extended to all primary schoolchildren.”
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