When Staffordshire Schools Dinner Lady, Trish Neilson, based at King
Edward VI School in Lichfield wrote to Michael Fabricant to say how
"demoralised and feeling very down" dinner ladies are feeling and
inviting Michael to a School dinner, how could he refuse?
Trish Neilson wrote "Jamie Oliver and Ruth Kelly", the Secretary of
State for Education, "have managed to do in one fail swoop more harm to
school meals than anything I can remember in the 23 years I have worked
in school meals. To paint everyone with the same brush is so unfair.
"In 2003, Ofsted rated Staffordshire the best school meals service in
the country. Mr Oliver made inquires to do his TV series with us. We
did healthy eating 10 years ago. But do the likes of us get a mention?
Oh no! And, by the way, King Edward’s has never had vending machines
and never will!"
So Michael visited the School this lunchtime (Friday 9th December) and
enjoyed a good school dinner after meeting dinner ladies and some of the
students. "What is clear from my visit is that Jamie Oliver should have
come to Lichfield to see best practice in action." Michael says. "The
Staffordshire School Meals Service has offered healthy eating options
for years and even more conventional school meals options – such as
chips – are cooked in as healthy a way as possible. Vegetables are
sourced from local growers and bread is baked on the spot. And the
children look all the more healthy for it.
"I shall be inviting Ruth Kelly to visit King Edward’s to see for
herself" Michael adds.
And what did Michael eat for his school dinner? "Well, I must be
honest. I didn’t go for the healthy option. I could have had a very
attractive salad. But I went for cod and a baked potato smothered in
baked beans followed by treacle sponge and custard! It was a cold day
and I needed warming up" he explains.
Photograph shows back row, left to right, Patricia (Trish) Neilson
the Catering Manager, Michael Fabricant, and Duncan Meikle headteacher
of King Edward VI School.