Launch of training programme to promote healthy food in schools and hospitals
The Mayor of London and the London Development Agency (LDA) yesterday announced a new training programme to help tackle childhood obesity with a pioneering scheme that will promote healthy school dinners.

London has the highest level of obesity among children in England at around 18 per cent. The new scheme will see £970,000 investment from the Mayor and the LDA to provide over 1000 free training places for public sector caterers and procurement managers to help provide healthier food to schools. The scheme will also benefit hospital patients, the homeless and the elderly and other public sector catering outlets.

As part of the scheme, school catering staff will be offered expert training in order to provide London's schoolchildren with healthier diets. Currently children only eat an average of 2.5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day, instead of the recommended five a day. Other diet-related concerns include the rise in childhood diabetes Type 2 which is now regularly being seen in children as young as seven.

The programme - Good Food Training for London - is delivered by Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency (GCDA), working in a unique partnership with Sustain -The Alliance for Better Food and Farming, Lewisham College and Greenwich Teaching Primary Care Trust. It is part of the Mayor's London Food Strategy, Healthy and Sustainable Food for London, which was launched in 2006. The Strategy identifies food preparation and cooking for public consumption as a high priority.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said:
'Food is an essential part of everyday living that can easily be taken for granted, yet the effects of our food habits are increasingly clear. Obesity levels are rising and many people don't have easy access to healthy and nutritious food. These free training courses will help catering staff working in the public sector to promote heathly diets, where possible using seasonal, locally-sourced food.'

Launching the programme at Marlborough School in Bexley, Jenny Jones, Chair of London Food and London Assembly Member, said:  

‘This project will improve the health of the staff, children, patients and all those who rely on vital public services for good quality meals everyday. As well as better health, the effects will be far-ranging, from increased skills among our workforce, benefits to the environment and boosting the London economy by supporting London businesses and building strong local and regional supply chains.

‘I am confident that Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency and its partners have the wealth of experience and expertise necessary to deliver a fantastic project which will make a lasting impact.’  

The Training will run until October 2009, with courses designed to suit all levels of skills, and meet needs in areas such as procurement, nutrition, preparation and service. Training ranges from 2 day short courses covering knife skills, customer service, menu planning, 12 week LOCN accredited cookery club tutor training to full NVQ Level 2.
The courses will be delivered throughout London, in locations convenient to students where possible.
1. Training Programmes provided:

•    NVQ/SVQ level2:

o    Professional Cookery
o    Multi-skilled Hospitality Services
o    Food Hygiene

•    OCNLR level 2 in Healthy Eating and Nutrition leading to becoming fully trained Cookery Club Tutors

•    Short courses (minimum of 6 hours) such as Customer Care, Food Presentation Skills, Knife Skills, Menu Planning, Nutrition and Food Procurement (including Costing, Local & Seasonal Sourcing) - available to take as a set or individually
2. To get involved and find out more, please contact GCDA on 020 8269 4880 or Sustain on 020 7837 1223.                                                

For media enquiries, please contact Rachel Clark at the LDA Media Team on 020 7593 8616; for public enquiries, please call 020 7593 9000

(15 Feb 2008 10:05 in Government News Network news)