🏆 FFLSH since 2021 🏫 Over 3,000 meals served in 30 primaries and 2 ASN schools
West Dunbartonshire Council achieved the bronze award in March 2021 and are one of many valued local authorities in the Food for Life Scotland family.
Food and Nutrition Co-ordinator Ellen McFarlane says even though they achieved their award during the difficult first year of the coronavirus pandemic, they saw the process as a journey, not a challenge.
Passionate about delivering the best possible meals for West Dunbartonshire’s school children, the local authority’s team was keen to aim for a Food for Life Served Here award and worked with the Food for Life Scotland team to adapt their school menus. Ellen has always encouraged cooking from scratch, and, therefore, they only needed to make a few changes. They already had several elements in place which met the standards required for the award, such as the majority of dishes on the menu freshly prepared every day. They did need to make some changes, however, and ensure these were consistently applied across all sites but the West Dunbartonshire team swiftly put the wheels in motion to do this with the support of Food for Life.
The catering team was already using a lot of produce from the UK and began looking at ingredients in more detail to see exactly just how local these products were. They then worked collaboratively with their suppliers McLays to further reduce food miles. And they agreed with McLays how they could manage produce swaps to keep produce as local as possible even when facing supply chain issues.
Many of the team have completed the Food for Life Served Here online training course and are very aware of the award’s purpose and benefits. They recognise the importance of ensuring that the meat they source comes from farm assured sources and work hard to maintain the standards. The staff are happy to answer any questions the children have and a couple of members of the team are Food for Life Served Here Ambassadors.
Ellen says the West Dunbartonshire team is committed to the Food for Life Scotland programme for the long-term and they aim to add their secondary schools meals onto their Food for Life Served Here award soon. She adds: “We don’t see it as an award but as a useful framework ensuring we achieve a good standard for the children and keep that standard up – everyone is entitled to good food.”
Donald McInnes, Catering Manager, and Fiona Holland, Team Leader, Facilities Management, West Dunbartonshire Council, have been awarded as Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors for their local authority.
Donald has worked with a student council at Clydebank High School to put a seasonal dish on the menu each month. This means students get a say in what’s served in the dining hall and the school has seen an increase in the uptake of hot school meals. Through the student council, pupils learn more about the ingredients and nutritional value of different dishes.
Fiona is working towards serving a new menu which takes seasonality and provenance into account and wants to increase awareness of the Food for Life programme and its benefits within her local authority. She will also be looking at setting up Good Food Groups in schools with a mix of stakeholders generating ideas of how to promote good food in West Dunbartonshire.