The latest menu for children to choose from now includes just 5g of sugar a day on average, down 73% on meals served up in 2014 when the average school dinner contained 18.5g of sugar.
West Sussex County Council’s Catering Services Team has been working closely with Public Health specialists since the end of 2014 in a targeted effort to reduce the amount of sugar in primary school meals.
The West Sussex Sugar Reduction Programme has been run at no extra cost in collaboration with Chartwells, the county council’s main primary school meals provider. In total, the amount of sugar that has been removed from meals over a school year is the equivalent weight of more than five double decker buses.
But crucially, the toughest critics – a team of pupil taste testers – have given the healthier meals the thumbs up, proving that there’s no need to compromise on taste and meal enjoyment when shelving the sugar.
Around 30,000 meals a day are served up in schools right across the county to children from Reception age up to Year 6. This was seen to be a great opportunity to make some small changes to meals that could yield large health gains for West Sussex children.
Menus were re-engineered, new recipes were developed, and portion sizes were revised, allowing changes to be made without compromising on food choices, and crucially maintaining the requirements of the School Food Plan Standards.
The reduction comes as Public Health England release startling new figures showing that children across the country are eating twice as much sugar as they should be.
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, Amanda Jupp, said: “We all know that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and related health and dental problems. Ensuring our school dinners are low in sugar is an easy way to make sure our children are getting the right balance they need. For some children, their school dinner is their main meal of the day, so it is vital that it is nutritious.
“I am very proud that we have been able to go the extra mile to ensure our school meals remain nourishing, without compromising on taste.”