As set out in the Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014, schools should provide children with healthy food and drink options, and ensure that children get the necessary energy and nutrition throughout the school day. These regulate the food and drink provided at both lunchtime and at other times of the school day. The standards set out that meat or poultry must be provided on three or more days each week, and milk must be available for drinking every day.
Current standards provide a robust yet flexible framework to ensure that pupils receive high quality and nutritious food that builds healthy eating habits for life. The Government continues to promote compliance with the School Food Standards and will keep this under review.
In February 2022, the Levelling Up White Paper outlined the Government’s plan to strengthen adherence. This includes piloting work with the Foods Standards Agency, funding of up to £200,000 in a pilot Governor Training Scheme and encouraging schools to complete a statement on their websites setting out their whole school approach to food.
Although the School Food Standards regulate the food and drink provided at both lunchtime and at other times of the school day, the Government believes that head teachers, school governors and caterers are best placed to make decisions about their school food policies, taking into account local circumstances and the needs of their pupils. This applies, for example, to the provision of vegan meals.
Schools should therefore make reasonable adjustments for pupils with particular requirements, such as dietary and cultural needs. The Government is encouraging schools to speak to parents about their school meals provision and act reasonably to ensure it best meets the needs and beliefs of their school community.
Schools must also provide access on their premises, at all times, to free drinking water. Schools should consider whether they are doing all they can to make free water visible and easily available.