School meals service retain top award for seventh consecutive year

Freshly-prepared, local and seasonal ingredients are at the heart of primary school meals in East Lothian, after the Council achieved the Soil Association Scotland’s Bronze Food for Life Served Here award across its primary schools for the seventh year running.

Confirming that East Lothian Council had once again achieved the national award, Food for Life Served Here inspectors praised “a fantastic annual inspection” and noted that “the kitchen staff were engaged and knowledgeable about the Bronze criteria. The food being prepared was to a high standard.”

The Food for Life Served Here award is a widely respected and independently assessed guarantee of quality. 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 Food for Life Served Here meals a day across their 35 certified primary schools. Menus are changed twice a year to reflect seasonality, with charts on display so that catering staff can select seasonal produce. Children in East Lothian primaries benefit from a range of healthy and tasty dishes including sausage and bean casserole with root vegetables, sweet potato and chickpea curry, and vegetable tagliatelli.

The Soil Association’s Food for Life Scotland programme, funded by the Scottish Government, supports local authorities to put more local food on school dinner plates, shortening supply chains and supporting thriving local economies.

In East Lothian schools, a provenance map highlights locally sourced ingredients. One local supplier, George Andersons & Sons, even bring their fruit and veg roadshow into schools to show pupils what produce is grown in Scotland.

Pupils in East Lothian primary schools regularly enjoy:

  • Locally sourced fruit and vegetables from George Andersons & Sons, including potatoes, cabbages and brussels sprouts from East Lothian, Scottish tomatoes, and rhubarb from local growers;
  • Scottish cheese from McLelland;
  • Scottish milk from Müller.

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."

Vanessa Sanal, Service Manager at East Lothian Council added: “ East Lothian Council’s Facilities Management  team are delighted to have maintained the high levels required to retain the Bronze Food for Life Served Here award for the seventh consecutive year. We are currently undertaking a pilot study in six of our primary schools aiming to achieve the next level of Silver Award with a view to working towards rolling the Silver Award out across the school estate.

"Earlier this year East Lothian Council adopted its Climate Change strategy. The school meals service continues to champion local produce and suppliers providing clear examples of a local, sustainable economy in action. Increasing the use of locally sourced ingredients goes some way to reducing our carbon foot print.”

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 seventh 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, 14th February 2020