Do school meals really affect a child’s learning?

To mark National School Meals Week in the UK, the Food Matters Live podcast is making a series of episodes looking at the challenges around providing nutritious food for our children in the school canteen.

In recent episodes, we have heard from the school caterer’s trade body, LACA, about the challenges they are facing, and from School Food Matters, a charity fighting to improve school meals.

Rising prices and supply chain issues are leading to some providers saying they will have to change their menus.

In this episode, we meet Dr Jennie Parnham, a researcher at Imperial College London who has studied the impact school meals can have on a child’s learning.

Dr Jennie Parnham, Researcher, Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit, Imperial College London

Dr Jennie Parnham is a researcher based in the Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit at Imperial College London whose work focuses on the inequalities in diet and nutrition for low-income children and the policies which can be used to address these.

Through her work she has developed an expertise in policy evaluation, nutritional epidemiology, and nutrition welfare policies.

These research interests were developed through her studies in Nutrition (BSc) at the University of Leeds and Social Epidemiology (MSc) at University College London.

She completed a NIHR School of Public Health Research funded PhD evaluating nutrition welfare policies in the UK at Imperial College London.

As part of this project, she used quantitative methods to explore the impact of the Healthy Start voucher scheme and free school meals on low-income children, filling critical evidence gaps for these policies.

Multiple portions of fresh food being dished out onto individual serving trays

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Do school meals really affect a child’s learning?