Five schools win Canteen Rescue Search competition
04/05/2011 - 23:00

Five schools in the UK have won The School Food Trust's Canteen Rescue search competition.

The competition has launched to help schools make improvements to their dining environments, and to raise awareness of the importance of a decent space to eat at school for children's learning and behaviour.

The five schools from Chorley, Knowsley, Newport, Lowestoft and Harrogate caught the attention of a panel of celebrity judges and public voters with their "impressive" designs.

Each school had their own dining room nightmares to solve, but popular requests were for better lighting, more sociable seating arrangements and inspiring décor.

The makeovers are now complete and pupils are enjoying a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere every time they eat.

Research for the School Food Trust has revealed how poor quality canteens are the biggest barrier to children's uptake of school food.

An independent study has also found that cramped canteen layouts, long queues, noise and inefficient payment methods all affect children's decisions about eating a healthy school meal.

Chief Executive Judy Hargadon said: "When children walk into a dining hall that is crowded, noisy and unattractive, they vote with their feet – no matter what is on the menu. The danger is that the huge efforts which have gone into improving the quality of school food will quite literally go in the bin unless schools tackle the environment in which it is served."

Rebecca Overthrow, headteacher at winning School Newport Infants, added: "Before the makeover, we had already started to make some changes to our dining room, but it was still lacking a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

"The whole school really got behind the Canteen Rescue project and everyone we are thrilled with the results. We've been seeing more students coming in to try it out, which is exactly what we set out to achieve."