West Dun achieves national award
West Dunbartonshire catering teams are celebrating after the council renewed its Food for Life Served Here bronze award for the second time. The council, which first received the award in 2021, is now serving over 8000 nutritious, sustainable and locally-sourced Food for Life meals across 67 sites, including secondary schools, primary schools and nurseries.
The hard work and dedication of all involved has once again been recognised by the widely respected and independently assessed scheme led by Soil Association Scotland and funded by Scottish Government. The Food for Life Scotland programme provides a framework through which local authorities can ensure they are serving food that’s good for health, the environment, and the economy. This is done by following a set of standards to achieve the Food for Life Served Here award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.
The Bronze award recognises that a minimum of 75 percent of dishes are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients. Meals are free from undesirable trans fats, sweeteners, additives and all genetically modified ingredients. Catering teams also use free range eggs, higher welfare meat and ingredients from sustainable and ethical sources.
The Council runs an annual menu to ensure they are serving seasonal produce. Catering teams work closely with Glasgow based supplier McLays to ensure they are serving as much Scottish fruit and vegetables as possible. Scottish produce currently being used in schools includes carrots, baking potatoes, new potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces, cabbage and red onions. Scottish apples, strawberries, brambles, pears and plums are also used in seasonal crumbles.
To communicate seasonality to the children in West Dunbartonshire’s nursery and primary schools, catering staff run sessions with the children to show them what local produce has gone into the latest seasonal dish.
West Dunbartonshire have two Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors, who invest time visiting the Primary 1 introduction days to help promote the Food for Life Served Here Award and the Healthy Eating in Schools approach. A number of primary schools in West Dunbartonshire grow their own fruit and vegetables, teaching children about the journey from farm to fork, as well as sustainability. Growing vegetables in schools also helps to minimise food miles and food waste. Catering staff have also started their own bespoke QMS cookery demonstrations in the High Schools showing the benefit of purchasing Scotch Beef, Scotch Pork and Scotch Lamb.
Councillor Daniel Lennie, Convener of Corporate Services at West Dunbartonshire Council said: “This is a remarkable achievement to receive this award across all of our educational establishments. We are fully committed to providing the best quality of food as we know there are educational as well as health benefits of having a hot nutritious meal each day. I am very proud of this achievement, and recognise the effort put in by Facilities Management staff in achieving this award again. I would like to thank the dedicated Facilities Management teams in all of our schools and ELCCs who care about food and children’s wellbeing and work so hard to ensure such a high quality freshly prepared menu is available each day.”
Sarah Duley, Head of Food, Food for Life Scotland, said: “Congratulations to West Dunbartonshire for renewing their Food for Life Served Here Bronze Award for another year. This is a huge achievement and shows that staff are dedicated to providing pupils with a hot, nutritious meal that’s healthy, freshly prepared and sustainably produced. We are delighted to recognise West Dunbartonshire for continuing to put more good food on school plates and for supporting Scotland’s food businesses and Good Food Nation ambitions.”