While there is no legislated standards for primary school meals, the food served in the island’s schools is nutritious and promotes good eating behaviour, the Education Minister has said.

Julie Edge was asked whether the nutritional value of primary school lunches has been assessed, whether it meets guidelines for children and what provisions there are for children who remain hungry after lunch, by Rushen MHK Dr Michelle Haywood.

Ms Edge explained that while the island currently has no legislated standards, the gov follows the same guidelines as used by the British and Scottish governments as a standard form of menu setting.

She added: ‘he school food standards ensure that food provided to pupils in school is nutritious and of high quality; to promote good nutritional health in all pupils; protect those who are nutritionally vulnerable and to promote good eating behaviour.’

As outlined in Ms Edge’s answer and the menu below, children are offered two choices accompanied by veg and potatoes or salad, as well as fresh bread and water. The menu has a meat free day, a vegetarian option every day and a vegan meal once a week. Ms Edge said ‘this is to encourage children to try a new protein in their diet’. Fruit and yogurts are also available every day for any child not wanting desert.

The Onchan MHK added: ‘The Department regularly seeks advice from the Government’s Paediatric Dieticians regarding dietary requirements to include coeliac, diabetic and other specific allergen diets. The Paediatric Dieticians reviewed the nutritional breakdown of the primary school menu during the summer of 2021. This analysis will help develop future menus in respect of a balance around calories and protein options.

‘To make positive changes to a healthier population, especially the younger members of the community, Government Department representatives, including Public Health, DESC and DHSC, are part of an implementation group, to produce guidelines following the creation of the ‘Children’s Weight Management Strategy’. Following the introduction of the guidelines, a new menu, along with a full nutritional analysis, will be available in September 2022 for the start of the new school term.’

To ensure all children have eaten as much as they need, or want, the Minister said that ‘helpers supervise and encourage the children to eat their meals, try new food items and make sure they eat as much as possible as to not go hungry during the rest of the school day’. And that the salad bar is always an option for any child if they are still hungry and want more fruit or salad.

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