.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Stick and Carrot

The first Assembly session after the Easter recess had a distinct culinary feel to it as opposition members sought to capitalise on the Jamie Oliver factor. The First Minister demonstrated that he had clearly been boning up on the subject:

The First Minister: Nutritional standards in Welsh school meals were praised by Jamie Oliver. I was extremely pleased to hear him say that the standard of school meals in some local authority areas in Wales—he may not have meant all parts of Wales—was good. He picked out for particular praise the two west Wales authorities of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Scotland has gone down the route of regulating what you can include in school meals, such as reducing salt, fat, monosodium glutamate and sugar. We have tended to concentrate on adopting an holistic approach to the provision of school meals by trying to persuade schools not only to serve healthy food, but to do so in such a way that means the children will eat it. We all know the problem with teenagers—if you tell them to eat a raw carrot, they will want greasy hamburgers. However, getting them to eat well is not as easy as telling them to eat greasy hamburgers, because they will still not necessarily want a raw carrot. Somehow, we must induce teenagers, in particular, to accept what is on offer as a healthy diet that they want to eat; Wales is leading on such an approach.

Later on his obsession with raw carrots became more obvious:

The First Minister: What is spent on school dinners will depend in the first place on whether we are talking about free school dinners or those that are paid for. We are trying to persuade authorities in Wales to increase their expenditure on the content, and make sure that it is healthy content, but also to present the food in such a way that kids will eat it. Merely serving healthy food does not ensure that kids, especially teenagers, will accept it and realise that it is important for them to eat it, because teenagers go through a phase where they want to do the exact opposite of what those in authority wish them and tell them to do. It is not as easy as reversing the situation and forcing greasy hamburgers on them to make them choose to eat a raw carrot instead. It is not as easy as that, and we know it. We have to try to persuade people to try the healthy options, because it will be good for them.

Plaid Cymru member, Helen Mary Jones, summed up what we were all thinking. How come Rhodri knows so much about child psychology?

Helen Mary Jones: I am sure that you would agree that one major potential market for local produce is local schools. As you have mentioned several times today, Carmarthenshire is a good example of where competition rules issues have been overcome. I was interested in some of your earlier responses, and your forays into child psychology have been fascinating. However, I press you again to commit to match the increased funding for school meals promised to schools in England by the Westminster Government—and I will not credit that to Jamie Oliver, or anyone else necessarily—to enable schools across Wales to provide more locally sourced food.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?