An innovative approach that has embedded change

🏆 FFLSH since 2014   🏫 4,600 meals daily in 23 primaries

East Renfrewshire Council has served over one million meals in its primary schools since achieving the Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) Bronze award in 2014.

ERC considers FFLSH as a contributor to the strategic focus of the East Renfrewshire Local Improvement Plan. The award scheme links directly to improving children’s education and wellbeing outcomes, and to developing skills and opportunities in the local economy.

“East Renfrewshire Council strives for excellence in giving children the best start and being supported to succeed. We wanted to be able to tell parents that we were serving high-quality school meals, beneficial to children’s health, wellbeing and attainment. The award was an excellent way to do that.”

Nicky Joiner, Catering Coordinator for East Renfrewshire Council

Sourcing local vegetables and supporting local growers

The majority of East Renfrewshire Council’s produce is procured through Scotland Excel. However, ERC has established a small-scale project for additional vegetables which has benefited pupils, pleased parents, increased staff skills and knowledge, supported a local enterprise, and met best environmental standards too.

Locavore, a social enterprise based in Glasgow, delivers a mixed box of locally grown, seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables to each of East Renfrewshire Council’s 22 primary schools every Monday. ERC sees the arrangement as a logical tie-up which gives pupils and caterers a different view of food, and also provides produce grown as locally as the park in which the children play.

Nicky says, “For our part, we are enjoying working with a local business which is also a social enterprise, employing local people, run on fair principles and growing delicious organic food. We’re pleased with how it’s working so far.”

Six Years of Bronze in East Renfrewshire

Read the latest news about East Renfrewshire's award-winning school meals

Tasting the difference

“When some of the catering staff saw the harvest squash for the first time, they were unsure what to do with it,” says Nicky. “So we introduced a newsletter which accompanies the box. It gives information about the vegetables and ideas for preparing them.” Cooks also pass this information to pupils.

The box scheme fruit and vegetables supply the crudités table as well as being part of the main meal, which means pupils can pick what they want for themselves and try different things.

The box illustrates good food: food that’s good for health, the environment and the economy. But if it didn’t taste good too, the pupils wouldn’t eat it.

According to Nicky, “The taste difference is phenomenal. The children and the catering managers were quite surprised about that. The pears, for example, tasted amazing. They don’t look perfect, but we chop them up.

“The apples came in pitted, but we made apple crisps and sprinkled them with cinnamon. I had a wee boy stop me the other day to say that the roast pumpkin had been great.”