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Orkney schools' award-winning meals

Orkney schools' award-winning meals

Congratulations to Orkney Islands Council for achieving the Food for Life Served Here Bronze award for their primary and secondary school meals service! 

Image: School catering staff in the Orkney Islands take part in a Food for Life Scotland training session before the pandemic (L-R: Samantha Rendall, Gayle Grieve, Jennifer Duthie, Rubyanne Rendall, Fiona McAdie, Anne Harrison).

The Council achieved the award despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, and catering teams are serving hot and nutritious meals to pupils across Orkney’s 16 certified primary schools, 3 certified junior high schools and 2 certified secondary schools. With a strong history of cooking from scratch in Orkney schools, and a commitment to sourcing much of its produce from local sources, achieving the Food for Life Served Here Bronze award demonstrates Orkney Islands Council’s values and ethos of serving fresh, local and sustainable meals in the region’s schools.

The Food for Life Served Here award recognises councils that are serving school meals which are made from fresh ingredients, use free-range eggs and higher welfare meat, and are free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.

The Food for Life Scotland programme is run by the Soil Association Scotland and funded by Scottish Government. The programme aims to help school catering staff serve freshly prepared meals made from locally produced ingredients that are healthy and sustainable. Orkney Islands Council works closely with suppliers including local butcher Williamsons and Orkney Fisherman’s Society to source fresh, local and sustainable ingredients as part of its Food for Life certified meals.

Orkney Islands Council is the 15th local authority in Scotland to achieve the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here award. It now serves 1,775 Food for Life certified meals every day across its 16 certified primary schools, 3 certified junior high schools and 2 certified secondary schools.

Image: Kavan Kynoch (left) and brother Kalian enjoy award winning school meals at Kirkwall Grammar School, Orkney.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said: “I am delighted that Orkney Islands Council have earned the Bronze Food for Life Served Here status and have become the 15th local authority in Scotland to do so.

“The Food for Life programme has made a great difference in ensuring that our school children have access to delicious, healthy, sustainable food – that has been grown, sourced and produced in Scotland.

“The programme also benefits local food producers by protecting jobs and supporting local farmers, which is fundamental as we continue to fight against the effects of COVID-19. I would encourage all other local authorities to consider taking part in this brilliant programme.”

Councillor Gwenda Shearer, Chair of Orkney Islands Council Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “Orkney is world renowned for its quality local produce, which is regularly sourced by top chefs for their restaurant menus. The same produce, which often originates on a farm ‘next door’ and from the seas around our coastline, is used to create fresh, balanced, nutritious and tasty meals for our children and young people – food they want to eat.

“We have long been proud of the standard and range of meals in our schools, but to achieve an award of this calibre, during these challenging times, has to be applauded. As some families face ever more difficult circumstances during the pandemic, never has it been more important to ensure our children and young people receive the option of a nutritious meal – improving pupils’ health and learning potential, and introducing good food habits from a young age.

“The variety and choices available are extensive with something for everyone – from homemade soups, sandwiches, wraps, baked tatties, to a main meal, pudding, fruit and yoghurt. We are also supporting our local economy and doing our bit to reduce food miles by sourcing from Orkney businesses where we can.

“Well done to all involved in achieving the Bronze Food for Life Served Here award.”

Sarah Duley, Head of Food at Soil Association Scotland, said: “Food for Life Scotland works in partnership with local authorities to put fresh, Scottish, seasonal food on school dinner plates across the country. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of school meals and it is heartening to see Orkney Islands Council take these steps to benefit local pupils, staff and suppliers even while grappling with unprecedented challenges.

“This Food for Life Served Here award is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved. We’re delighted to recognise the Council’s commitment to serving fresh, local produce in their school meals, and we look forward to working with even more of Scotland’s local authorities in the future.”