The school that shows good food is not just for posh kids | Aditya Chakrabortty

In England’s poorest town, schools are teaching their children to embrace a healthy diet. Our new economics series looks at the lessons from Oldham

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Should you ever need cheering up, I can recommend 11am at Stanley Road primary in Oldham. That’s when lunch starts for the youngest children and it is pure excitement; the kind you used to have when horizons were short, days were long and nothing else needed bothering about. First comes the babble of voices, far bigger than the little bodies that follow, swaddled in plump anoraks despite the sun outside. They take crockery, these four- and five-year-olds who, back in September, didn’t know how to hold a knife and fork – and get down to the serious business of choosing.

Behind the counter stands Sheena Fineran: black hat, big specs, magenta polo and, after 30 years as a dinner lady, in complete mastery of her domain. “When I started, it was lumpy mash. It was liver. It was cheap, fried, nasty food.

Related: How a small town reclaimed its grid and sparked a community revolution | Aditya Chakrabortty

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