MSPs tuck into award-winning school dinner

29 May 2013

Last week MSPs including Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead were given a flavour of some of the best school food being served in Scotland when they enjoyed a real school lunch at the Scottish Parliament.

Richard Lochead with North Ayshire chefs

Richard Lochead with North Ayshire chefs

At a time when the quality of school food is high on the agenda, the event, organised by Soil Association Scotland, provided an opportunity to celebrate the two local authorities, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire that have achieved the gold Catering Mark and called upon MSPs to recognise the achievement of the Food for Life Catering Mark across Scotland.

North Ayrshire Council's catering team, which included UK School Chef of the Year finalist Pamela Jamieson from Cumbrae Primary School, served up some of their most popular school dishes to the enthusiastic (and hungry!) crowd. The menu included freshly made chicken curry, steak casserole, and Pamela’s own award winning hand-made ravioli dish, which this week won the Highly Commended Main Course prize in the Local Authorities Caterers Association (LACA) UK School Chef of the Year competition. Lunch was washed down with Scottish organic milk or tap water.

Every day in North Ayrshire, pupils are served menus which are 80% freshly prepared and based on seasonal, local and organic ingredients including fresh bread, seasonal fruit and vegetables, organic bananas, Scottish organic milk and UK farm assured meat which is traceable back to the farm.

MSPs also met the team from East Ayrshire Council, Scotland’s first gold Food for Life Catering Mark local authority, to find out more about their award-winning school meals service and how they are supporting local suppliers.

UK School Chef of the Year finalist Pamela Jamieson

UK School Chef of the Year finalist Pamela Jamieson

Commenting on the school dinner, Host Rob Gibson MSP, who is also the Co-Convenor of the Scottish Government's Cross-Party Group on Food said; "If North Ayrshire's menu is anything to go by, school dinners have come a long way since my school days. The beef casserole was particularly good, and my lunch was made all the better knowing that the meat I was tucking into was traceable right back to Scottish farms, supporting Scottish farmers and our economy. All of Scotland’s young people are entitled to tasty food that is not only good for our health, but also better for the planet. It would be fantastic to see the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark high standards for school meals rolled out across Scotland.”

“Scotland produces a wide variety of food and drink which is renowned across the world and at home," added Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead. "I am pleased to congratulate North Ayrshire who now join East Ayrshire Council in delivering school meals at Gold Standard according to the Food for Life Catering Mark award scheme. This is clear evidence from both of these Councils of their commitment to offering pupils the best quality meals by sourcing locally and it is the young people in their schools that will reap the benefit."

Laura Stewart, Director Soil Association Scotland, said, "Today we have given some of Scotland’s key decision-makers the opportunity to see how things can be done, by enjoying real school food that includes local, seasonal, traceable and organic ingredients. There are currently 6 local authorities serving more than 35,000 Food for Life Catering Mark meals in primary schools across Scotland every day, and we are working with many more organisations to help them achieve the award. Our vision is a Scotland in which the gold Food for Life Catering Mark becomes the norm.”

Find out more about the Soil Association's Food for Life Scotland programme.

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