Ready Steady Go - For School Dinners
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Former Olympic athlete Steve Cram joined children from across County Durham as part of a campaign to promote free school dinners.
The one-time world record holder put around 150 children from 15 primary schools across the county through their paces with a short fun run at the Riverside Cricket Ground, in Chester-le-Street.
They also tucked into some healthy school meals, got involved in a cooking demonstration and watched a drama about the importance of healthy eating performed by students from Shotton Hall School.
The pupils even staged their own 'Olympic' procession, parading from the cricket ground to the nearby running track with colourful flags made by each school.
Over the next two academic years every primary school pupil in County Durham will get free school meals as part of a Government pilot scheme.
Steve, who is backing the campaign to encourage children to take up the offer, said: "As an athlete I know that you can only perform at your best if you eat a healthy and balanced diet.
"I'm delighted to support this campaign in County Durham. It will give thousands of children the chance to enjoy a free healthy meal, which will not only help to make them fitter and stronger but will also help them to perform better in the classroom."
The pilot scheme involves 244 schools and will benefit up to 30,000 children.
It is aimed at improving pupils' performance at school and their health by ensuring they get a nutritious hot meal every day.
Coun Claire Vasey, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services at Durham County Council, said: "We know that children who eat a healthy and balanced diet are more likely to be fit and healthy, which in turn will help their performance at school.
"This scheme will give every primary school child a better chance to be healthy and to achieve to the best of their abilities."
The two-year pilot scheme, which will end in August 2011, is being jointly funded by central government, Durham County Council and NHS County Durham and fully supported by Taylor Shaw, the main catering contractor for County Durham primary schools.
Peter Taylor, managing director of Taylor Shaw, said: "This scheme is proving what we have known for some time - namely that children who eat well do well.
"That's as true for five-year-old school pupils as it is for world class athletes. What better way to demonstrate that than for someone like Steve to talk to children first hand about how important what he ate was to all the success he enjoyed?"
Notes to editors
- Taylor Shaw is a part of the Waterfall Group, a £40 million turnover group specialising in education and healthcare.
- The Waterfall Group, which also includes care sector specialist, Caterplus, employs nearly 1,900 staff and has three offices in the UK.