School meals are on the menu at Scottish Parliament
Food for Life Scotland and ASSIST FM are shining a light on the hard work of caterers serving fresh, local and sustainable school meals in Scottish schools. The Good Food for Scotland’s Future parliamentary event, sponsored by Jim Fairlie MSP, showcased real school meal recipes and emphasised the value of school meals services in a challenging environment.
A hot, nutritious school meal has huge benefits for society, such as contributing to children’s and young people’s health and fuelling their learning. ASSIST FM works on behalf of its members and supply chain to promote best practice in facilities management, which includes catering, cleaning and janitorial services. They represent school caterers working across Scotland, highlighting the fantastic work their members do everyday in the background of the cost-of-living crisis.
School food procurement also has the potential to be a key driver in pushing forward the priorities of the Good Food Nation Act. Buying food locally can enhance Community Wealth Building, support sustainable producers and strengthen local economies. With the Good Food Nation Act national plan coming to consultation, the Community Wealth Building agenda, and the ongoing rollout of universal provision, all within a cost-of-living crisis, school meals have never been more important.
The Good Food for Scotland’s Future parliamentary event showcased what a school meal looks like today. Tasters were prepared by Scottish Parliament’s caterers using real Scottish school meal recipes, meeting both the national nutritional regulations and the Food for Life Served Here standards, as well as using seasonal ingredients.
On the menu:
- lentil soup
- chickpea curry
- macaroni cheese
- steak pie
- fish cake
- apple and bramble crumble.
Opening the event, Jim Fairlie MSP said: “School meal provisions has long been a focus of my attention, and my experience of school meals was positive, with kind school cooks who really cared about the food they were serving and the children they were feeding. That’s why I was pleased to join Food for Life Scotland and Assist FM to celebrate the work and dedication of the brilliant school caterers who are feeding Scotland’s next generation.
“Food can create memories, social connection, camaraderie and a sense of belonging. The role of school caterers in delivering that for our children through a freshly prepared, nutritious school meal is not to be underestimated and the Food for Life Served Here award is a great mechanism to do this.”
Chris Ross, Chair, ASSIST FM, said: “It’s a pleasure to work in partnership with Food for Life Scotland to celebrate the school food heroes who go above and beyond in the community in which they serve.”
“In over 5,000 schools and early learning centres, staff ensure the nation’s children are fed a high-quality, nutritious lunch in a safe environment. The continued cost of living crisis highlights the growing role played by school catering staff across the country, as a growing number of learners rely on our services for the only hot meal they may get that day. ASSIST FM and our partners are planning for the further role out of Universal Free School Meals, creating many new jobs in the local area, investment in the local economy and most importantly access to a meal for a growing number of learners who rely on our services.”
Sarah Duley, Head of Food, Food for Life Scotland said: “With the Good Food Nation Act national plan coming to consultation, the Community Wealth Building agenda, and the ongoing rollout of universal provision, all within a cost-of-living crisis, school meals have never been more important.
“A fantastic school meal feels to me like a key signal of a Good Food Nation. We anticipate school meals to feature centrally in the upcoming national and in subsequent local authority local plans as a tool for positive change and a way of delivering on the requirements of the GFN Act, but crucially I think they’re also important in bringing the vision of a Good Food Nation to life. That vision is described as “Scotland will be a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day.”
“School meals are a practical and sensory tool that will resonate with people of all ages across Scotland, most of us will remember our school eating experiences, school meals are easily understood by the public, smelled, tasted, enjoyed by thousands of pupils, as well as having ripple effects beyond the plate.
“Having a hot, nutritious meal at school is a powerful way to support children, young people and their families now and to set them up well for the future - hungry weans don’t learn.”