West Dunbartonshire achieves national award for its school meals service

Published 22 June 2022

West Dunbartonshire Council is the first urban local authority in Scotland to achieve the Food for Life Served Here Bronze Award for its education settings.

The Council received the award for serving 5,000 daily school meals that are healthy, sustainable and locally sourced in all of its 38 schools and 29 early learning and ASN centers.

The bronze award recognizes that a minimum of 75% of dishes are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients. Meals are also free from undesirable trans fats, sweeteners, additives and all genetically modified ingredients. Catering teams use free range eggs, higher welfare meat and ingredients from sustainable and ethical sources.

West Dunbartonshire achieved the bronze award for its primary and nursery school meals in March 2021, the extension of the award to also include secondary schools demonstrates the Council’s ongoing commitment to providing pupils with nutritionally balanced breakfasts, lunches and snacks from food produced locally from supplier, McLays.

The Food for Life Scotland program is run by the Soil Association Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government. The program aims to support school catering staff to serve freshly prepared meals made from locally produced ingredients that are healthy and sustainable. The Council works closely with suppliers to source fresh, local and sustainable ingredients as part of its Food for Life certified meals service

Councilor Daniel Lennie, Convener of Corporate Services at West Dunbartonshire Council said: “This is a remarkable achievement to receive this award across all of our educational establishments. School meals are an important source of nutrition for all pupils with school meals often being more nutritious than food sourced from external providers, and that means significant health benefits for our young people. I would like to thank the dedicated Facilities Management teams in all of our schools and ELCCs who care about food and children’s wellbeing and work so hard to ensure such a high quality freshly prepared menu is available each day. ”

Councillor Clare Steel, Convener of Educational Services, said: “We are committed to providing the best quality of food possible to our children. We know there are educational as well as health benefits of having a hot nutritious meal each day and I am very proud of this achievement, and recognize the effort put in by Facilities Management staff in achieving this Award. Families are benefiting from this service, with all three to five year old pupils in ELCCs and all primary 1 to 5 pupils receiving free school meals. It is vital that pupils have access to food that’s healthy, nutritious and freshly prepared, and at the same time being sustainably and locally produced. ”

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “I am delighted to see that West Dunbartonshire have expanded their Food for Life Served Here Bronze Award to include early learning centers, primary schools and secondary schools.

“This means pupils of all ages have access to freshly prepared, sustainable and locally sourced food.

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this significant achievement and would encourage other local authorities to work with the Food for Life Scotland team to bring all of their education settings on board with the award.”

Sarah Duley, Head of Food, Food for Life Scotland, said, “With no sign of easing on the cost-of-living crisis, it’s critical that we continue working towards a fairer, more resilient food system that provides for everyone. It has never been more important to ensure children have access to nutritious, healthy and freshly prepared school meals and we would like to thank all of the catering teams across Scotland who work so hard to ensure this happens. By achieving the Food for Life Served Here Award across all of their school settings, West Dunbartonshire Council are leading the way in ensuring all pupils in their care can access food befitting of a Good Food Nation, huge congratulations to all involved. We hope to support many other local authorities to achieve the same. ”

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