Dr Mike J Smith

Plymouth University

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Never Second - a soap opera all of it's own

Mon, 18 Jun 2012

Well the Never Seconds blog continues to make international headlines. It's hard to imagine how taking a photo of your school lunch can generate such interest, and indeed have such an impact, but it does. Let's face it, school dinners are hardly known for their culinary quality, although moves in recent years such as Jamie Oliver's campaign have brought the issue more in to the limelight and there are many schools that work hard to increase quality knowing that it is directly linked to health (and so indirectly to learning). There is (limited) sympathy - dishing up quality can cost more in ingredients, although the key part is quality staff. When you try to do this on an industrial scale then it becomes much harder to maintain that quality across all those staff, particularly when the market is very price sensitive. Sympathy over - there is no excuse really for this type of food.

OK, so as a council what do you do? Well, with a duty of care, improve your service, turn the nightmare of PR coverage (I'm sure this is what Alex Salmond wants to see!), globally, in to a massive success story, invite contacts like Jamie Oliver to help improve this. Shift the focus from crap food, to an improving service and subsequent impact upon real children with real lives.

So what did the council actually do? Errr.... forbid a 9 year old child from taking photos of her school dinner. Hard to imagine a bigger own goal than this...... surely, surely, SOMEONE would have realised this would be absolutely the LAST thing you would do??!!!!! And the take-apart of press release just allows it to get better.

Come on Argyll and Bute - come clean, admit the food is poor, regardless of which EU regulation you are sticking to, and do something about it. Turn the disaster in to something people can talk about and get some good PR. And allow yourselves to focus on delivering your services to the vulnerable in your communities.

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