Fruit and vegetables at lunchtime

These standards emphasise the importance of providing a variety of vegetables and fruit that will boost the fibre, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C content of school lunches. They also aim to increase the amount of vegetables in school food by ensuring vegetables are available alongside the main dish, as well as sometimes within it.

  • One or more portions of vegetables must be provided as an accompaniment every day
  • One or more portions of fruit must be provided every day
  • A fruit-based dessert with a content of at least 50% fruit must be provided two or more times each week
  • At least three different vegetables and three different fruits must be provided each week.

This food group includes:

Vegetables – all forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced, as well as pulses such as beans and lentils. Vegetables or salad should be offered as an accompaniment to every meal, in addition to any vegetables used as ingredients in composite dishes such as casseroles and stews. Potatoes are classed as a starchy food and are not included in this food group.

Fruit: all forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced. Fruits can be provided within other dishes – for example fruit-based desserts such as fruit salads, crumbles, sponges, cobblers and pies. Fruit used as decoration, or jam added to a dessert, does not count towards this standard.

Fruit-based desserts have a content of at least 50% fruit measured by weight of the raw ingredients (e.g. fruit crumble, fruit pie, fruit sponge, fruit cobbler, fruit jelly).

FAQs:

How has the standard for vegetables changed from the previous standards?
Schools are now expected to provide: ‘one or more portions of vegetable or salad as an accompaniment every day’ and ‘at least three different vegetables each week’.

This is about getting more vegetables into school food overall, at the same time as getting children trying a wider variety of vegetables – to help them get the fibre, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C they need.

It means vegetables in composite dishes (vegetables which are within the dish, like vegetable curry) no longer count towards this standard. But it’s still good practice to include vegetables as part of dishes, as well as on the side.

How has the standard for fruit changed from the previous standard?
Schools now have to provide ‘one or more portions of fruit every day’, ‘at least three different fruits each week’ and ‘a dessert containing at least 50% fruit two or more times each week’.

This is about both getting more fruit into school food overall, at the same time as getting children trying a wider variety of fruit – to help them get the fibre, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C they need.

What counts as a fruit-based dessert?
This is about getting children eating more fruit, by making sure the desserts available on at least two days each week are based on fruit. These must contain at least 50% fruit (measured by weight of raw ingredients). They include hot puddings like fruit crumbles, pies, sponges and cobblers, and cold desserts like fruit jellies, fools and mixtures of fruit and yoghurt/fromage frais. Fruit used as decoration, or jam added to a dessert, doesn’t count.

As an example, an apple crumble made using 2.7kg apples and 2kg other ingredients would contain 57% fruit and would count as a fruit-based dessert. But an apple and raisin muffin made with 660g fruit and 2000g other ingredients would only contain 25% fruit, and so wouldn’t count.

Fruit-based desserts count as a portion of fruit, so you can use them to meet the standard requiring one or more portions of fruit each day.

Can we use whole or chopped fruit to meet the requirement to provide fruit-based desserts?
It’s good practice to provide lots of different dessert options through the week. Where schools only provide fruit as dessert (like fruit and yoghurt, fruit salad, chopped fruit or whole pieces of fruit), this fruit does meet the requirement to provide fruit-based desserts.

Where schools provide puddings and cakes in addition to fresh fruit, two of these will need to be fruit-based desserts each week (like a fruit crumble, pie or sponge, fruit jelly, fruit fool etc.) to meet the standard.