From Russia with lunch
A Russian expert has been searching for the secret to great school grub.
Elena Bulin-Sokolova was yesterday given a tour of the Samworth Academy, which prides itself on its educational approach to food and nutrition.
Mrs Bulin-Sokolova visited the school in Trenant Road, off Saffron Lane, Leicester, after the Children's Food Trust chose it as the best example of how to incorporate a healthy approach to food into school life.
She works for The Skolkovo Foundation is which is looking at how to improve school kitchens and dining rooms and make healthy meals as it builds a school in Skolkovo, a town near Moscow.
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She said: "I have been very impressed with what I have seen here at the Samworth Academy.
"One of the most impressive features I have come across is the fact that where the children eat their food looks like a restaurant.
"The dining room is light and airy and the furniture is bright and comfortable.
"There are even flowers on each of the tables. It is very welcoming for the children."
Mrs Bulin-Sokolova said she had enjoyed her whistle-stop visit to Leicester, which had given her plenty of food for thought.
She said: "The whole approach to food here is quite pioneering. I will be taking lots of information about the way they do things here back to Russia."
She was accompanied on her visit by her 13-year-old daughter Anna.
Anna was surprised to see the range of food on offer for lunch.
She said: "This is so much nicer than our school dinners in Russia.
"There is so much choice and much more of what I would like to eat. I would like to eat here every day."
Samworth Academy deputy principal Jim Cook said he was delighted and honoured that the school had been selected to host the Russian visitors.
He said: "We are proud to have been chosen from schools throughout the country.
"It is a wonderful accolade for the academy and vindication of all the hard work the staff and pupils have put in here."
Mr Cook said all children were given lessons on food and there were after-school initiatives which included getting parents and children cooking healthy food together.
He said: "There is a lot of research to show that a well-nourished and well-hydrated child is a happy child and a child that will concentrate better in class and behave better in class.
"That is what we strive to do here."
He said there were 1,000 pupils at the academy and 75 percent of them opted for school dinners.
Jeremy Boardman, senior adviser for the Children's Food Trust, said the Samworth Academy was the obvious choice for the visit.
He said: "We know all about what they do here and we are very impressed.
"Lunchtime is a very important part of the day so our visitors want to explore how they do it so well and take lots of tips back to Skolkovo."