Petition Require schools provide a vegan meal option every day

The School Food Regulations 2014 create requirements for schools to provide portions of certain foods, but do not specifically require schools to provide a vegan option. This should be amended to require schools provide the option of a nutritionally balanced, hot vegan meal on a daily basis.

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To quote Laura Chepner, Chair of the Vegan Society's Education Network: "The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on educators not to discriminate against vegan children and students. Currently the Government only asks that schools make 'reasonable choices' when deciding whether to cater for vegans in their care. Those who choose not to are discriminating and it is about time that the grey area became black and white. Vegan options in 2022 should not be optional."

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 April 2022

Head teachers and governors set their schools’ food policies. We expect them to act reasonably and to work with parents to provide choices that meet dietary and cultural needs, including veganism.

The government recognises the importance of plant-based foods from a cultural and environmental point of view. The standards for school food are set out in The Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 (‘the School Food Standards’), and already allow schools the freedom to provide plant-based meals as needed. Meat must be served on three or more days each week and beyond this, schools may provide a meal with a vegan source of protein every day if they choose to.

The government believe that headteachers, governors and their caterers are best placed to make decisions about their school food policies, in consultation with parents. The School Food Standards have been designed to allow schools the flexibility to do this. We expect schools to act reasonably, providing choices that take account of cultural, religious and special dietary needs, including veganism, and to work with parents in making appropriate arrangements.

In doing so, we expect schools to accommodate pupils with particular requirements, to reflect dietary and cultural needs. Schools should consult with parents when making changes to school food provision and ensure parents have access to information on the food provided. If any pupil or parent requested that a school offer a vegan option, and if the school refused to comply, it would be open to the parent or pupil to take it up with the school and consider using the school’s complaints policy. If they were not satisfied following that process, they can raise a complaint with the department. The department would consider any such complaints on a case-by-case basis.

This government wants pupils to be healthy and well nourished. We encourage a healthy balanced diet and healthy life choices through school funding, legislation and guidance. The School Food Standards are there to ensure that schools provide pupils with healthy food and drink options, and to make sure that they get the energy and nutrition they need across the school day.

The government sets out required minimum standards for school food in the School Food Standards to ensure that children are served healthy, nutritious meals at school. The Standards do not specify food requirements in terms of cultural and religious needs. The relevant regulations are available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1603/pdfs/uksi_20141603_en.pdf

Compliance with the School Food Standards is mandatory for all maintained schools and academies (including free schools). Information and guidance on the School Food Standards is available from gov.uk at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-food-standards-resources-for-schools

Department for Education

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