School Food Plan | Sharon Hodgson

School Food Plan | Sharon Hodgson


I was one of those kids that got free school
meals from the day I started school to the day I left. What it meant to me was that I was a big fan
of school food. The first time I tasted garlic was on a pizza
at secondary school and pizza was so cosmopolitan! I remember spaghetti bolognaise as well, going
home and pestering for that. My mum didn’t have a clue how to make it
but school was responsible for educating my palate. I think school food really should be above
party politics and that’s why I wanted to set up the All Party Parliamentary Group for
School Food. The group is a place for experts to come together
and to be able to impart some of their knowledge to parliamentarians. We have everybody who’s connected with every
aspect of school food from nutrition, to the people who produce it and the suppliers, and
the campaigners for better school food and more free school meals, every aspect of it. As a country this is something we really need
to focus on. A lot of the work that Henry and John are
doing on this review I hope will feed into that. I didn’t know anything about Henry and John
and the Leon chain before Michael Gove announced they were going to be doing this review so
I was quite sceptical as I think a lot of the sector was – A, why another review and
B, who are these guys? On the day it was announced Henry was on the
phone wanting to speak to me which I was quite chuffed about I thought wow, he’s found
out who I am and that I’m involved in this group. I think the way John and Henry are bringing
everyone together, they hit the ground running. They’re looking at the business of feeding
11 million children every day and how that perhaps could be better done as well as the
nutritional side of it and boy they are really taking it seriously. They are looking at models around they world,
they’ve been around the country and looked at the areas where we have the trials of universal
free school meals, they’re meeting with all the sector and I think they’ve had to
build a lot of goodwill and bring people on board and they have, and I think now everybody,
the whole sector, everybody is engaging with them because they see how passionate and genuine
they are. I think its very important that we have an
action plan because post Jamie Oliver we went so far but there is still a fair way to go. I mean everyone in the sector would tell you
that, they’ll tell you how many schools they’re working with, how many have signed
up for the Food For Life Partnership, how many are now healthy schools but its still
just the tip of the iceberg so as much as I thought we didn’t need another review,
they could take this whole agenda to another level, they could really bring something new
and fresh, so I’m working with them, I’m supporting them in this review and I’m encouraging
other members of both sides to get engaged with them and I’m really looking forward
to the end product.

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