school meals

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The Education Act 1944 (Butler Act) required all local authorities to operate a school meals service to provide a midday meal in all schools, for which parents of pupils were charged a nominal weekly sum. This requirement was withdrawn by the Education Act 1980, as was the requirement that school meals meet a minimum nutritional standard, although meals for pupils whose families were on low incomes and in receipt of benefits continued to be provided free of charge. In line with the policy of introducing market competition into all aspects of public life, school meals services were put out by local authorities to tender. This led to what was widely recognized as a decline in nutritional standards. This was addressed in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, which empowered the Secretary of State to regulate minimum nutritional standards. These standards were put in place in 2002. Nevertheless, the continuing poor nutritional quality of some school meals was subsequently brought to public attention by a campaign conducted by the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (b. 1975), who has been credited in some quarters with securing thereby an increase in government funding to ensure that minimum standards of nutrition can be met.

Subjects: Education.

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