Banking bronze within the budget

🏆 FFLSH since 2017   🏫 5,400 meals daily in 43 primaries

Renfrewshire Council provides school meals to pupils in 42 primary schools, and achieved its bronze Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) award in 2017. Across the 43 primary schools, this amounts to around 5,400 fresh, local, sustainable school meals every day.

"Going for Food for Life Served Here certification encouraged us to look at the catering service as a whole, not only the menu but also the cost, environment, staff training and more.

We looked at what other local authorities were doing too. We were already well accredited in other ways, for example for food safety standards, so we knew what we were getting into in order to get to the registered standard for the award."

Stephen Heron, Facilities Manager, Renfrewshire Council

Using Food for Life to improve service quality

Renfrewshire Council’s motivation to gain FFLSH certification was part of a broader strategy to improve the uptake of free school meals, particularly for primary one to three pupils, by providing healthy and sustainable food for pupils.

The council benchmarked several local authorities and developed an action plan across the themes of communication and marketing, equipment, staffing, training and development, engagement with parents and pupils, and quality and menu development. Achieving the FFLSH award would directly support the themes of quality and menu development, training and development, and communication and marketing.

Making changes to the menu to make good food the easy choice

As part of their Food for Life journey, Renfrewshire Council worked hard to ensure that at least 75% of their menu was freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients (up from 60% previously). This meant some changes to the menu, including:

🍝 Tomato sauces for pizza bases and pasta dishes are now freshly cooked in school kitchens rather than bought in jars.

🥔 Simple changes to baked potato toppings - like introducing homemade coleslaw, and a homemade vegetarian chilli (which also helped to bring down costs).

🥝 Running taster sessions for unusual new fruits, such as rhubarb crumble for the winter menu.

Levelling-up school kitchens

Some changes had to be made in school kitchens in order to accommodate some of the menu changes. There were not enough blenders to prepare the new and different types of soups and sauces, so these have been supplied. Staff have also had to plan menus and associated food preparation around hob capacity.

Because previously, so many meals were being heated up in ovens, there was less pressure on hobs than there is now. As Jean Brown, Facilities Officer, explains, "We can’t do everything that was previously done in the oven on the hob; we might not have had eight things on the hob before. So that’s taken some planning."

The above adjustments have required thought, planning and imagination, but facilities staff who were previously concerned recognise the value in making positive changes.