:: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ::

Twizzlers and Ninja Mums

From the Education Guardian Banned in Scotland but good enough for English children

One of the interesting features of devolution in Scotland and Wales is the threat of a good example. So in Wales we have measures such as the scrapping of prescription charges. If it works there then why not in Scotland or England? An argument the SSP is currently applying.

Another example is school meals. One of the first big campaigns by the SSP in the Scottish Parliament was the Free School Meals Bill. This was defeated but undoubtedly put the Scottish Executive under pressure to take some action. And so food standards have been improved and made more healthy. Of course to really tackle problems of obesity and ill-health getting rid of the stigma of free school meals by making them universal would be the way to go.

Meanwhile the changes in Scotland are exposing the crap being fed to kids elsewhere. Turkey Twizzlers and Smiley Faces, unhealthy food with a high salt content. "Turkey Twizzlers contain 21.2% fat when cooked, more than twice the 10% maximum recommended for processed meats under the Scottish guidelines. Bernard Matthews burgers are 19.8% fat and the nuggets are 17.3% fat."

"By contrast, the English standards merely dictate how many times a week red meat and fish should be served. They say nothing about the quality of the meat, do not dictate a minimum meat or fish content in processed food and say nothing about fat or salt content. While Scotland powers ahead, the quality of English school food remains worryingly poor."

There is a real problem with childrens health all over the country. "When the Department for Education and Skills surveyed nearly 6,000 secondary schoolchildren at 79 schools, they found that only 6% were choosing to eat salad or vegetables. Nearly 10% of all six-year-olds and 15% of 15-year-olds are classed as obese." Some parents are taking direct action, like the 'ninja mums'.

"In England, the issue is hot and getting hotter all the time. Around 100 parents a month call the Food for Life campaign at the Soil Association to ask for advice on improving school meals, opting out of catering contracts or staging takeovers. The children's food company Organix and celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and the River Cafe's Rose Gray have all joined the campaign for better school meals. Parents have formed action groups. Some have even taken over running their own school kitchens. In March a group of so-called Ninja mums at St Paul's school in Primrose Hill, north London, raided their school kitchen to discover who was supplying the meat for their children's lunches.

The parents say that they had been emailing and phoning both the council and the catering company, Scolarest, for five months without getting a straight answer. According to John Wilkinson, the head: "The food is more nuked up than cooked up. It's orange food, smiley faces, dino burgers, fish-shaped fish cakes. I've been teaching for 25 years and the quality has definitely dropped."

Natasha Seery, one of the Ninja mums, says: "I am being nabbed in the playground by parents who are sick of making packed lunches every day. We are doing everything we can to get decent hot meals served in the school." She feels that there is a stigma attached to the children still eating school meals, particularly as they are segregated from the primarily middle-class children eating packed lunches."
More on the ninja mums here.

Steven Twigg even admits that the school meals provision is patchy. Let's hope that the good example spreads.

:: Alister | 1:15 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


Hi Ally - have to agree with everything you wrote there, except this:

"One of the interesting features of devolution in Scotland and Wales is the threat of a good example. So in Wales we have measures such as the scrapping of prescription charges. If it works there then why not in Scotland or England? An argument the SSP is currently applying."

If thats the case, then the SSP has got its arguments back to front re: the abolition of prescription charges.

The argument isnt that it worked in Wales so it should work here. Abolition of Prscription Charges in Wales was first put forward because the proposers - who were the Welsh nationalists - who believed that THE PEOPLE OF WALES COULD ORGANISE THEIR HEALTH CARE THEMSELVES BETTER THAN ANY LONDON GOVERMENT COULD.

The idea was only LATER adopted by the Labour-run devolved Welsh Executive.

Here in Scotland the primary argument that has been conspicuous by its absence - so far - from the SSP mover of the Bill is that THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND ARE BETTER AT RUNNING OUR OWN HEALTH CARE THAN WESTMINSTER IS. PERIOD.

And that argument applies not just to health care but to every aspect of politics and life.

Aw the best - for class and country


By Blogger Kevin Williamson, at 3:17 pm  

More an example of how pressure from the left (and I'm not too up on how left wing or otherwise PC are at the moment) can swing the political centre of gravity to the left slightly. Ken McLeod made much the same point about the SSP recently. I don't think this is a great argument for independence and the break up of the British state (which I support), because, well, we are running our health care albeit within the limits of spending imposed by Westminster and the Scottish Executive. We are also limited by the EU which demands privatisation of key services.

By Blogger Alister, at 10:03 am  

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