17/11/2005

Healthy school meals rolled out to pupils

Thousands more pupils across Northern Ireland are to enjoy healthy school meals, as part of a drive to improve young people's eating habits.

Launching the new Nutritional Standards at the NI School Caterers Association Conference, Education Minister, Angela Smith, announced that around 400 schools have now signed up to the new guidelines, following the successful pilot scheme.

Speaking at the launch, she said: "From this January, around 400 schools will be serving healthy school meals as part of the Nutritional Standards. This represents around one-third of all schools in Northern Ireland and provides clear evidence not only of an accelerating trend, but also highlights the sheer volume of change over a relatively short period of time.

"We received a very positive response to an earlier pilot study involving some 100 schools with many pupils welcoming the opportunity to try out healthy choices such as tortilla wraps, chicken fajitas, paninis and various vegetables. I am delighted that thousands more pupils throughout Northern Ireland will now benefit from freshly prepared, healthy school meals which will undoubtedly make an impact on their overall eating habits.

The Minister also confirmed that two specialists would be working with the Training and Inspectorate to evaluate the nutritional quality of school meals.

"As further evidence of our commitment to this, I am announcing that from the 2006/07 school year, the Education and Training Inspectorate will be examining schools' general approaches to promoting healthy eating. Two specialists will also be recruited to work with the Education & Training Inspectorate to evaluate the nutritional quality of schools meals," she concluded.

(MB/SP)

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