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School Food Provision

Children consume a third of their food at school, providing an opportunity to offer nutritious and appealing food that promotes a good quality diet. Encouraging children to eat a well balanced school dinner often provides much better nutrition than a packed lunch brought from home.

Not only does this benefit overall health, it is also likely to improve concentration and learning.

Promoting uptake of school dinners also makes high quality food (that is both appetising and nutritious) more financially viable for schools.

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Our systems map shows that the quality of school food provision in schools can be influenced by caterers, cooks and lunch time staff, along with the priorities of the headteacher and school leadership team. If high quality food is offered to children across the school day (including breakfast, after school clubs and snacks) it will likely influence the whole dining experience, school lunch uptake, child food preference and intake, and parental perceptions of the school food offer.


See our recommendations and tips below on how your could  make positive changes to the school food provision to support a whole school approach to food, including advice on negotiating your catering contract.

What you can do in your school

The cost and impact of each action was informed by an evidence based approach to estimates and the feedback of school stakeholders 


Low: our stakeholders estimate this will have low financial cost

Medium: our stakeholders estimate this will incur some financial cost or time commitment

High: our stakeholders estimate this would require some financial investment


Low: our research tells us this recommendation would achieve the greatest impact if combined with other activities

Medium: our research tells us this recommendation is likely to support achievement of a whole school approach to food

High: our research tells us this recommendation will make a significant contribution to a whole school approach to food.

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