LACA / ParentPay research is launched in front of a watching TV audience of millions!

What an exciting start to NSMW! The LACA / ParentPay School Meals and Daily Life Issues research report finally launched after months of hard work from all involved!  It was lights, camera, action as the BBC Breakfast TV team joined staff and pupils, LACA, AVF Marketing and me at Bishop Challoner, Catholic Collegiate School in Tower Hamlets, London for the launch of NSMW. There were three live broadcasts, with Graham Satchell interviewing Anne Bull, LACA Chair and report author, Arnold Fewell as well as students from the school.

Following this the national press picked up on the story rapidly with articles/features appearing online and broadcast on the BBC website, The Independent, BBC Radio 5 Live and a huge amount of local radio coverage.

The main talking points in the media included that 3 out of 4 parents think that children should not be allowed out of school at lunchtime – removing any opportunity for them to buy junk food and reducing concerns about safety.

There are some interested challenges for us all though, about a third of parents still feel they do not get enough information about school meals and the vast majority want to see much more of this information online, something which could be a quick win for schools and caterers alike in helping increase uptake.

Parents also wanted to see increased meal uptake in schools rewarded - an interesting idea. Most importantly they would like to see ALL schools adhering to government nutritional standards and that the standards are enforced and maintained by independent monitoring.

We then headed off to Westminster for a Parliamentary reception with LACA colleagues and a number of MPs to discuss the report. I joined a panel discussion with Sir Bob Russell MP (Lib Dem), Lord Jim Knight (Lab) and Neil Carmichael MP (Con) as well as Arnold Fewell, Anne Bull and Beverley Baker. Arnold and I introduced the key findings of the report before handing over the two MPs to speak. They raised some interesting points before the floor was opened up for questions.

All three MPs commented on the quality and relevance of the research findings. Sir Bob Russell committed to taking a copy of the report the same evening to hand to David Law, and said that the report should go directly to the Education Select Committee and that they should consider it seriously. Lord Knight agreed that it was vital that Academies abide with the standards and Neil Carmichael said that school leadership should be more closely involved in school food using the findings of the report to inform their decisions.

With questions from the floor, the debate moved on to concerns over the high number of children leaving for school without having breakfast and playing food ‘catch-up’ throughout the day – another key finding in the report.

I will be back to update you more on NSMW tomorrow. What a fantastic day for LACA, NSMW and the school food industry!!

LACA / ParentPay research is launched in front of a watching TV audience of millions!

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