Government boost to fresh, healthy and organic school meals
26 June 2012
Last Thursday, at the Royal Highland Show, Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment in the Scottish Government, announced a £772,000 package aimed at improving the quality of school meals across Scotland. Mr Lochhead marked the occasion by saying that “the Scottish Government is delighted to be building on its existing support for Soil Association Scotland to enable them to scale up the fantastic Food for Life programme."
The funding has been awarded to Soil Association Scotland to expand their Food for Life programme which includes supporting Local Authority caterers to meet the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark standards for school meals.
The Food for Life Catering Mark is a Soil Association scheme which guarantees that what’s on the menu is freshly prepared, free from undesirable additives and better for animal welfare. Over 16,000 Catering Mark meals are served in Scotland each weekday – that’s around 3 million each year. The bronze, silver and gold Catering Mark tiers recognise food providers who use local, seasonal, healthy and organic ingredients.
So far in Scotland, East Ayrshire Council, Highland Council and Stirling Council have achieved the Catering Mark for their primary school meals. Laura Stewart, Director of Soil Association Scotland, said “a third of school-age children in Scotland are classed as overweight or obese, and nine in ten do not eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, so providing children with a good meal at school is vital to help stem the rise of diet-related ill-health and help children develop lifelong healthy eating habits.” With this new Scottish Government funding the Soil Association will be able to support many other Local Authorities to improve the quality of their catering.
Margaret Paterson, School Catering Manager at Hurlford Primary, one of 40 schools in East Ayrshire that have achieved the gold Food for Life Catering Mark, said that “having the gold Catering Mark means that parents can be reassured their children are getting high quality food at our school every day.