Small producers to be encouraged to colloborate for school meal contracts

Education secretary Alan Johnson has announced a package of measures to improve school meals, one of which could open up a new market for small and local producers.

Mr Johnson has announced a new multi-million pound package of measures to embed the school food revolution for the long term and help tackle childhood obesity.

The package includes £240m to continue to subsidise healthy ingredients until 2011 after the current £220m transitional fund runs out in 2007/08.

But DEFRA has also been asked to work to increase producers’ capacity to bid successfully for contracts to supply schools with food, in particular by helping them to collaborate with each other and with the rest of the food chain.

The department is also planning a Year of Farming and Food which aims to help improve young peoples’ understanding of where food comes from.

Another £2m has also been set-aside for the establishment of a network of regional training kitchens to act as centres of excellence, hosting the area’s school cooks for training on day release.