Box Chicken pilot from Forest Gate welcomes plan to ban fast food

Giles Smith with his Box Chicken pitch in Forest Gate during the pilot in October 2013 Picture: Suki

Giles Smith with his Box Chicken pitch in Forest Gate during the pilot in October 2013 Picture: Suki Dhanda - Credit: Archant

Plans to ban fast food takeaways near schools have been welcomed by an organisation that ran a healthier eating pilot scheme in the borough.

A Box Chicken pop-up van sold chicken to Forest Gate pupils for four weeks in October last year.

Now the organisation that ran the project, Shift, has welcomed a report by London’s Health Commission calling for planning guidance to ban new junk food outlets from opening within 400 metres of schools.

The report suggested that the ban would reduce obesity.

Ella Wiggans, account director with Shift, said: “Our pilot showed that there is market demand for tasty, affordable food near to schools.

“Rather than limit the existence of quick, cheap and hot meals in these areas, we believe that the existing unhealthy outlets should be replaced with options that can compete on taste, price and proximity, but provide a much more nutritious meal.

“Box Chicken showed that we can get tasty, affordable food choices into areas dominated by unhealthy options, and offer young people a genuine alternative.”

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Ella added that schoolchildren opt for chicken shops because they are quick and close to school.

After Shift’s successful pilot, the project was extended to four boroughs in September.

Its meals contain 700 fewer calories, 85 per cent less salt and 20pc less sugar, as well as more vegetables.

Shift is now working with councils to set up pitches near secondary schools and fast food hot spots.

Its research showed that there are 258 fast food outlets in Newham and all secondary schools in the borough are within 500 metres of at least one.

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