Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, was presented with the Educatering Mag Special Award for her work on Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM), specifically her integral role in committing the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, to protect funding for UIFSM at the Despatch Box after it was revealed that the scheme was going to be scrapped ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015.
Sharon Hodgson MP received her award from Jamie Robbins, Managing Director of H2O Publishing and Hilary Hadley, Business Development Manager at Nestle Professional.
Before the award was presented, a citation was read out which said:
"This year’s winner is a real champion of school meals.
She [Sharon Hodgson MP] is a brilliant ambassador and supporter of all those that work in our industry. She has used her public position to promote and raise the profile and importance of feeding children healthy, nutritious and tasty meals at school.
Our winner set up the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food which she chairs.
This forum gives the opportunity for all the interested organisations and individuals involved with school food to discuss the issues, put forward ideas and highlight concerns.
Importantly, the group ensures a route for the industry to influence Government policy and decisions.
As we were all very aware, this was never more vital than this time last year, when the recipient of tonight’s award played the most important card in the campaign to Save Universal Free School meals for our youngest customers.
The then Secretary of State for Education seemed to be determined to abolish these free meals. Following much lobbying and a petition which had some 42,000 signatures, Universal Free School meals was finally saved by her asking this question at Prime Ministers Question Time in Parliament to Mr Cameron.
She said: “Will you guarantee now not to scrap universal infant free school meals so you don't go down in history as Dave the dinner snatcher?"
This action saved Universal Free school meals, and we all owe her a huge thank you for all that she does to support us.
I have much pleasure in announcing that the winner of the EDUcatering Special Award 2016 is shadow health minister Sharon Hodgson MP."
After receiving her award, Sharon said:
“It is a real honour to have received this EDUcatering Mag award and have my work to ensure all children are eating a hot and healthy school meal, especially one that is free, recognised. The work that I have done over the years has been supported and formed by the commitment and passion shown by the school food sector, and it is wonderful that they have bestowed this special award on me.
“This award is a testament to the work we have done together which has seen so many improvements in school food in the last decade. There is still a lot more that we can and must do to improve school food, and the access to healthy and nutritious food all year round for children, and I will continue to work hard on this important matter.”
Pat Fellows, former Chair of the Lead Association for Education Catering (LACA), who has worked in the school meals service for 44 years, and who nominated Sharon Hodgson MP for the EDUcatering Mag special award, said:
“Sharon’s work on school food was never more vital than this time last year, when she played the most important card in the campaign to Save Universal Free School Meals for our youngest customers when the then Secretary of State for Education seemed to be determined to abolish these free meals.
“Following much lobbying and a petition in excess of 42,000 signatures, UIFSM was finally saved by Sharon asking Mr Cameron at Prime Ministers Question Time in Parliament if he would guarantee then not to scrap universal infant free school meals so he wouldn’t go down in history as ‘Dave the Dinner Snatcher?’.
“All of us involved in school meals are absolutely delighted that our “Champion” has won this prestigious award, so richly deserved”.