Government boost to fresh, healthy and organic school meals

22 June 2012

Today, at the Royal Highland Show, Richard Lochhead, Minister for Rural Affairs, will announce a £772,000 package aimed at improving the quality of school meals across Scotland.

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 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. [1]

So far in Scotland, East Ayrshire Council, Highland Council and Stirling Council have achieved the Catering Mark for their primary school meals. 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. [2]

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, said:
“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. Food for Life Scotland delivers against the Scottish Government’s national food and drink policy by working throughout the supply chain to improve opportunities for the production, procurement and consumption of healthy, local and sustainable food which is affordable and accessible for all.”

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.

“This generous funding goes a long way to securing the total budget required. But we are still looking for some match funding to enable us to deliver our plans for Food for Life Scotland.”

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: “Having the gold Catering Mark means that parents can be reassured their children are getting high quality food at our school every day. All our meals are made from scratch with around 30% organic and 50% fresh local ingredients. We make our own sandwiches and do all our own baking; this includes making pancakes, scones and oat biscuits for morning snacks. We are proud to support local suppliers, who in turn support us, and we have managed to achieve all of this within budget.”

- Ends -

For more information, photos or interview requests please contact:
Siobhan Mathers - 07919 377755

Notes to editor:

[1] Food for Life Catering Mark menu criteria include:


  • Meals contain no undesirable food additives or hydrogenated fats
  • 75% of dishes are freshly prepared
  • Meat is from farms which satisfy UK welfare standards
  • Eggs are from cage-free hens
  • Menus are seasonal
  • Training is provided for all catering staff
  • No GM ingredients are used
  • Free drinking water is prominently available
  • No endangered fish are served
  • Information is on display about food provenance

Silver and gold
The silver and gold Catering Mark standards are assessed on a points system. Food providers are rewarded for every percentage point of their ingredient spend on items including organic and free range animal products, locally sourced ingredients and steps to offer healthier menus. The points system maintains rigorous principles for environmentally friendly, local and healthy food, yet offers flexibility to recognise food providers’ different strengths and priorities. Silver and gold Catering Mark holders must also meet the bronze standards.

[2] Short film from Soil Association Scotland about the Catering Mark (3mins 41secs) – view here

About Food for Life Scotland and the Food for Life Catering Mark
Food for Life Scotland aims to transform food culture in communities throughout Scotland by supporting the consumption and production of good food that is healthy, sustainable and accessible to all. A major strand of Food for Life Scotland’s work is to support caterers in Scotland to achieve the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark. To find out more visit
The Food for Life Catering Mark is open to all food providers across the UK. Over 550,000 Catering Mark standard meals are served each week day – that’s over 101 million every year. The scheme is open to all food providers for meals served in universities, nurseries, schools, hospitals, workplaces and restaurants. To find out more visit

About the Soil Association
The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, people and the environment. Soil Association Scotland was set up in 2002 to bring Soil Association expertise closer to producers, consumers and policy makers in Scotland. To find out more visit
Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Soil Association Certification Ltd., the Soil Association’s certification subsidiary, certifies around 80% of organic farming and food processing in the UK. To find out more visit

Send in your stories

We are looking for news and events relevant to our work in Scotland, such as Scottish organic farming and sustainable food. Please send us a short paragraph outlining your news or event with a link to further information, and a photograph if possible. Please note, we reserve the right to edit items sent in to us.