The Ministry of Justice has today (1 April 2015) announced
plans to introduce mandatory food standards for all court staff in England and Wales.
The introduction of Judicial Food Standards follows the news in December 2014 that judges were being forced to make their own packed lunches
due to a £1.3m cut to the judicial catering budget.
The new standards, originally designed for schools by the
Department of Education as part of the
Government’s Healthy Eating Standards campaign
are designed to make it easier for judges and other court staff to create their
own imaginative, flexible and nutritious menus.
A pilot scheme in a number of County Court hearing centres has
been set up following anecdotal evidence that judges do not eat healthily when
left to their own devices. The idea of the scheme is to develop healthy eating
habits and ensure that all court staff get the energy and nutrition they need to
effectively discharge their duties across the whole working day.
The scheme emphasises that it is just as important to prepare
food that looks good and tastes delicious as it is to be simply healthy. Judges
and other court staff will attend mandatory seminars detailing: what foods meet
the new standards; recommend dishes; and foods that reduce tiredness. The
sessions will also encourage staff to eat their lunches in a pleasant environment
where they can sit with their friends and colleagues.
The Judicial Food Standards apply to all maintained courts. All
lunches consumed must include:
- high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish;
- fruit and vegetables;
- bread, other cereals and potatoes.
Banned items under the scheme include:
- crisps, chocolate and sweets;
- drinks with added sugar; and
- more than two portions of deep-fried, battered
or breaded food a week.
Each court building will employ a food monitor, known
colloquially as a Lunch Judge, who will conduct random checks on homemade lunches
to ensure that staff are adhering to the new standards.
Despite initial resistance from court staff, initial
findings from the pilot scheme suggest that judges have felt happier, less
stressed and more productive. The pilot scheme is now due to be rolled out in courts nationally
following its success in NunEaton; OldHam; Chip ‘n’ Ham; WeyMouth; and NottingHam.
The MOJ has produced this useful chart to assist court staff when planning their lunch.