East Lothian serve up fresh success
East Lothian Council are harvesting the benefits of prioritising fresh, local produce in school meals as they celebrate achieving the Food for Life Served Here Bronze award for their primary school meals for the sixth year in a row.
Putting more Scottish food on the table
The Food for Life Scotland programme supports local authorities across Scotland to put more local food on school dinner plates and serve freshly-prepared, sustainable meals. It recognises and rewards councils that are serving food made from fresh ingredients, using free-range eggs and high-welfare meat, and free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.
Pupils in East Lothian primary schools regularly enjoy:
- Locally sourced fruit and vegetables from George Andersons & Sons, including potatoes, cabbages and Brussels sprouts from East Lothian, summer soft fruit from Fife, and soup mixes and turnips from Tayside;
- Scottish cheese from McLelland;
- 100% free range eggs, 77% of which are Scottish and the remainder of which are British.
“I’m Jim and I grow your tatties.”
Using more local food in school meals reduces food miles and helps to support thriving local economies. Lorraine Faulds, senior officer in facilities management services for East Lothian Council, described some of the benefits of their farm-to-fork approach:
“We got our suppliers to come in. For example, the local farmer who grows the potatoes came to our supervisor meeting and he said “I’m Jim and I grow your tatties.” And that appealed to them. They knew that the tatties grew in a particular field that they drove past on their way to work, and that it was Jim who grew them.
“It was the same with the carrots. They started to feel proud of that; proud that they were using East Lothian produce; and proud of being able to say that to the children.”
From Farm to Fork
In addition to economic benefits of using a local supplier, ELC has been able to directly engage their staff and pupils with their supply chain, including visits to farms where their food is grown. This closer and richer relation with their food has sparked learning and interest for cooks and pupils.
Lorraine describes how using local produce also linked into educational activities with the pupils. “George Anderson & Sons has been our distributor and supplier of fresh vegetables for several years, and we organised a competition for the children to get to see the potatoes being graded and so on. The cooks were able to go along as well. And then after that, some schools started growing their own, and the cooks were saying “your tatties are ready – let’s cook leek and tattie soup this week”, and they would tell the children in the dining room “today you are eating your own potatoes”. It really caught staff’s interest. They do all sorts of great things on their own initiative now.”