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Public Health Wales report examines how to optimise the role of school food in promoting nutrition and reducing health inequalities

Published: 25 April 2024

In a bid to enhance the health and well-being of children and young people across Wales, Public Health Wales has published a new report detailing how we can optimise the role of school food in promoting nutrition and reducing health inequalities. 

The report serves as a blueprint to foster a collective understanding of the pivotal role school food plays in shaping the health and well-being of children. It delves into various aspects, including the historical context of school food as a public health intervention, an overview of the current school food system in Wales, and the prevailing dietary habits and health status of school-aged children in the region. Moreover, it underscores the potential short, medium, and long-term impacts of school food on health and well-being. 

The report emphasises the significance of establishing effective healthy school food approaches to create conducive environments for the health and well-being of children and young people. It highlights several benefits, including equitable access to nutritious food, fostering sustainable dietary habits, and supporting educational attainment. 

Rachel Bath, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales said: “Wales stands at a critical juncture where concerted efforts are needed to capitalise on the potential of school food in enhancing the health and well-being of its youth. Without sustained progress and concerted action, the profound impact school food can have on children's health and well-being may remain unrealised.”  

Public Health Wales is poised to collaborate with stakeholders to unlock the full potential of school food, thereby improving health and educational outcomes and mitigating inequalities. 

In acknowledgment of the transformative power of school food, Rachel Bath explains: “Public Health Wales has launched a dedicated workstream focused on enhancing the school food environment. Under the banner of "Working Together for a Healthier School Food Environment," this initiative aims to galvanise efforts across sectors to create environments that promote healthy eating habits and positive health outcomes among children and young people in Wales.” 

As Wales embarks on this ambitious journey to harness the potential of school food, collaboration and concerted action will be key. By prioritising the health and well-being of its youth, Wales is not only investing in a healthier future but also paving the way for a more equitable and prosperous society.