Oliver: Govt to blame for school meals downturn

Jamie Oliver has blamed the government for the troubled implementation of his healthier school meals programme.

Speaking for the first time since Ofsted confirmed the healthier meals had not been embraced by pupils, the television chef blamed the government for under funding the scheme.

Mr Oliver said the government’s approach to school meals reform was “slow, painful, unstrategic, unmethodological.”

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he complained the scheme had been “badly invested in,” arguing school kitchens needed upgrading and dinner ladies needed more training.

Mr Oliver said: “As far as love, care, strategy and most importantly training [of dinner ladies].nothing.”

He complained the School Food Trust, set up in 2005 in response to his television show Jamie’s School Dinners, had been under funded.

“When I saw Tony last he promised he would create a fund that would rebuild kitchens that are falling down or build them for schools that didn’t have them.haven’t seen that either.”

An Ofsted report last month said the national reforms had stalled and warned the impact of the new food policy would have limited effect if present trends continued.

School inspectors found schools are offering more healthy choices, but fewer pupils are opting for the remodelled school meals.

Ofsted said pupils had been ignored when new menus were designed and the overall scheme had not been sold to them. It also said dining halls should be improved.

At the time, the government blamed schools for not implementing reforms properly but Mr Oliver last night attempted to shift the blame back to ministers.

Asked when his plans would be realised, he replied: “I think it’s going to dribble on for another three years and will take ten years to turn around.”

The Department for Education and Skills provided the School Food Trust with £15 million when it was first established.

The now Department for Schools, Children and Families said a further £500 million dedicated funding would be available by 2011.