Healthy eating lessons
It was back to school for Comet reporters BOB BRYANT and DAMION ROBERTS who ventured out of the office this week to find out how schools canteens are coping with providing good healthy food to their pupils THE healthy eating revolution started at one St
It was back to school for Comet reporters BOB BRYANT and DAMION ROBERTS who ventured out of the office this week to find out how schools' canteens are coping with providing good healthy food to their pupils
THE healthy eating revolution started at one Stevenage school before celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched his crusade to encourage children to eat healthier food at school and at home.
Pupils at Thomas Alleyne School have been enjoying the fruits of healthier eating for more than a year and every menu is designed with health in mind.
Headteacher Jonathan Block has been a strong advocate of encouraging his 900 pupils to learn and then consume the knowledge in the school canteen with a magnificent array of meals and drinks that reflect a healthy agenda when it comes to food.
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In May the school even introduced a system allowing pupils to have bottles of water on their desks to prevent dehydration during lessons.
"Eating good food helps children in many ways. We see good behaviour from healthier children and physically and mentally children are able to learn better," said Mr Block.
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"We put in place a healthy eating programme before Jamie Oliver began urging children to eat healthier meals in schools.
"Jamie has questioned a lot of things about eating in schools, which is a good thing. I am all for it. But I am not saying children don't have freedom of choice."
The cost of eating in the canteen means pupils pay on average £1.55 a day for a three-course meal. Choice of menu regularly changes and pupils know a month in advance what is being served on any individual day.
In charge of the cooking team, who prepared and cooked from fresh produce, is Karen Essai and her six staff. They liaise with head of health and social care Helen Bishop.
"We have all worked so hard on providing healthy food for pupils and we listen to what they have to say," said Mrs Bishop.
Four Year 10 pupils who enjoy their schools dinners are Louis Drakes, Rebecca Hemmings, Charlotte Haines and Alex Melbourne all aged 14.
"The canteen is great and we now all understand the kind of food that is healthy for us to improve our life style," said Rebecca.
Louis, a keen squash player, said: "Playing a lot of sport means I must eat healthy food which I get here every day and also at home."
Charlotte tucked into a beef wrap and said: "Wraps are great. The food here is fantastic and I am sure we have all benefited from eating good quality food."
Alex said: "We have all learned a lot from being at a school that encourages people to eat healthy food and what we learn now will hopefully mean we will all eat healthy food throughout our lives."
# Conjure up an image of school dinners and couscous doesn't automatically spring to mind but that was one of the foods on offer at St Andrews C of E School in Hitchin on Tuesday,
Similar foods are available all week and headteacher Christine Cernik , who during the academic year celebrated her school achieving healthy schools status, said: "We have been making sure our pupils have been eating healthily for a long time.
"In the canteen we serve healthy options operated in a traffic light system where foods with proteins are red, carbohydrates are yellow and vegetables are green.
"This way even the younger children know that if they take food from each section they will have a healthy meal.
"We also have a salad bar which is set out in front to the serving hatch on which we have lots of variety of vegetables for the children to choose from."
Cook Joanne Moore, who has been working at the school for 18 months, said staff work hard to make sure the best possible food is provided to the children.
She said: "We do all sorts of things to encourage healthy eating and even add things like carrots to mashed potato to give them more nutrients in their diets."
One pupil, eight-year-old Eliza Chapman-Smith, said she enjoyed the variety of foods on offer.
She said: "I think the food is really healthy and we have lots of choices. My parents are happy about it, or at least I think they are.