School meal service retains award

East Lothian parents urged to take advantage of fresh, healthy, and sustainable school meals which have once again been recognised with a national award.

School catering staff in East Lothian are celebrating after the Council achieved the Soil Association Scotland’s Bronze Food for Life Served Here award across its primary schools for the sixth year running.

The Food for Life Served Here award is a widely respected and independently assessed scheme, supported by the Scottish Government, which supports Local Authorities to put more local food on school dinner plates and serve freshly-prepared, sustainable meals. It recognises and rewards councils that are serving food made from fresh ingredients, using free-range eggs and high-welfare meat, and free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.

East Lothian Council serves 3,700 meals a day across their 35 certified primary schools.

The Food for Life programme works with Local Authorities to get more Scottish food on plates, shortening supply chains and supporting thriving local economies. Pupils in East Lothian primary schools regularly enjoy:

  • Locally sourced fruit and vegetables from George Andersons & Sons, including potatoes, cabbages and brussel sprouts from East Lothian, summer soft fruit from Fife, and prepared vegetables, soup mixes and turnips from Tayside;
  • Scottish cheese from McLelland;
  • 100% free range eggs, 77% of which are Scottish and the remainder of which are British.

The boost in local produce from the Food for Life Served Here Bronze award has also linked into educational activities with the pupils.

Lorraine Faulds, senior officer in facilities management services for East Lothian Council, said “George Anderson & Sons has been our distributor and supplier of fresh vegetables for several years. They organised a competition for schools to grow their own potatoes and the school with the highest yield then visited to see potatoes being graded and packaged. The school cooks also used the produce the children had grown as part of the lunch time experience’.”

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, said: “We want children to enjoy more of Scotland’s fantastic produce as part of their school meals. The Food for Life Scotland programme is helping us to achieve that, and I’m delighted to congratulate East Lothian Council on the renewal of their Food for Life Served Here award.

“The programme helps us to deliver on our shared ambition with the food and drink sector, to find new market opportunities, helping to sustain and grow their businesses, whilst bolstering the local economy and improving our children’s health. We look forward to seeing more local authorities across Scotland sign up to the scheme.”

Cllr. Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian Council’s Education and Children’s Services spokesperson congratulated staff on the achievement. She said, “Providing a range of healthy, nutritious meals to children and young people is a really important part of the school day.

“Our school catering teams have been very innovative in not only encouraging a greater uptake of schools meals through taster sessions but also preparing most meals from scratch and increasingly using locally sourced produce. Parents and carers are also asked for their feedback on the school menu. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their collective efforts in achieving this award and I’m sure that this work will encourage even more children and young people to opt for a school meal.”

Mike Robertson, General Manager at George Anderson & Sons, said: “George Anderson & Sons have been located within East Lothian for over 30 years distributing fruit and vegetables to a variety of customers. East Lothian has been called the ‘Garden of Scotland’, with asparagus, cauliflower, cabbages, potatoes, brussels sprouts, leeks and mushrooms all grown here over the last ten years, and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to use these local growers and suppliers.

“We are currently uplifting potatoes from Scotchip at Samuelston Mains near Pencaitland, Brussel Sprouts from East Lothian Produce at Haddington and Primo and Savoy Cabbages from P Stuart & Sons at East Fortune. With two or more vehicles delivering within East Lothian we’re able to collect produce from the farms on their return to the warehouse, cutting down on food miles and emissions.

“We have also run potato competitions with the primary schools within East Lothian on an annual basis. This consists of planting potatoes before the summer school holidays and harvesting them when they return, with the school with the highest yield winning the prize.”

Sarah Duley, Food for Life Scotland Programme Manager at Soil Association Scotland, said: "Huge congratulations to East Lothian Council on this fantastic achievement. Renewing their Food for Life Served Here award for the sixth year running is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, from the catering staff to the Councillors. We’re delighted to celebrate East Lothian’s continued commitment to providing fresh and healthy school food, and their support of local producers.”

Published: Friday, 18th January 2019