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A week of celebrations is underway to highlight just how far school meals have come since the days of lukewarm liver and bacon and lumpy banana custard.

As part of National School Meals Week (3-7 November) a host of celebrity chefs are joining forces with schools cooks to promote the great school lunch. It comes just months after the launch of free school meals for 2.8 million primary school children and the introduction of cooking on the curriculum.

On Monday, the Deputy Prime Minister joined school children at Brasserie Blanc in Oxford, to get some top cooking tips from Raymond Blanc, before heading to a primary school in North London to cook up a storm with Lorraine Pascale.

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“It’s a very simple truth that if you don’t give children a healthy, balanced meal at lunchtime, you can’t expect them to sit down, concentrate and learn well in the afternoon.

“That’s why I’m so proud of the work we’ve done in Government to put school food back on the agenda. We’ve introduced new food standards, cooking on the curriculum and free school meals, which can save families up to £400 per year, help children do better in class and improve their daily diet.

“This week is about not only encouraging children to really understand and enjoy the food they eat but to celebrate  all the schools chefs and catering staff who work day-in day-out to help provide school meals and ensure that we live in a fairer society where every child can get the best possible start in life, regardless of their background.”

Hundreds of schools across the country will also be taking part in the celebrations, which mark the biggest healthy eating awareness week aimed at children in England and Wales. With one in five children leaving primary school overweight or  obese, ensuring a healthy, nutritionally balanced school lunch has never been so important.

To help raise awareness and enhance children’s relationships with food, school cooks will be taking their skills out of the school kitchen to showcase to parents and pupils the variety and quality of food now being served in schools.

Planned activities include:

  • School chefs cooking a great school lunch at high-profile venues across the country, including Manchester City football club, Speke Hall and Wigan Athletic  FC.
  • Pop-up school kitchen outside Parliament to serve great school lunches to MPs today,  Tuesday 4 November. Top school food will be served by award-winning school chefs, including organic beef Jamaican Pie with mash, vegetable paella, cheesy leek pasta and tutti frutti crumble.
  • Celebrity chefs including Gregg Wallace and Lorraine Pascale working with schools to highlight the tasty, health school food.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

“Eating a healthy, nutritious, meal at school has been proven to help children do better academically and we have made great progress in ensuring more and more pupils all over the country can enjoy those benefits.

“With the help of hard working staff, we have improved the quality of food in schools without increasing costs and thanks to Universal Infant Free School Meals every child from the age of four to seven has access to a healthy meal at lunchtime – saving parents up to £400 a year.               

“This week celebrates that progress and provides a chance to show off the creativity and talent of our hard working school catering staff to the wider community.”

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