East Dunbartonshire gains Bronze Award for early years

East Dunbartonshire gains Bronze Award for early years

East Dunbartonshire Council’s catering team are celebrating after the council renewed its Food for Life Served Here Bronze award for the second year in a row.

The council, which first received the award for its primary school meals back in 2022, is now serving over 11,000 nutritious, sustainable and locally-sourced Food for Life meals in its 32 primary schools and 22 nurseries every day.  It’s the first time the award includes their nurseries, highlighting this commitment to putting good food on the plate.

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 also 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 team found achieving the FFLSH Bronze award to be straightforward, as the catering service's approach fitted with the principles of Food for Life.

East Dunbartonshire Council works with local suppliers to source produce for its school meals. Glasgow-based McLays Foods ensures high quality meat, sourcing from farms in Perthshire and Aviemore. All meat products they use are traceable from farm to plate from a UK farm assurance scheme, such as Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) or Red Tractor. McLays avoid the use of single-use plastics, and 90% of all plastics are clear and can be recycled. McLays also use delivery vehicles of Euro 6 standard to reduce CO2 emissions.

George Carruthers & Sons Ltd provides East Dunbartonshire schools with Scottish blueberries, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, and turnips. They also display seasonality calendars in school dining halls so pupils can discover when these fruits and vegetables are in season in Scotland.

Pupils enjoy nutritious, sustainable and locally-sourced meals, including soups and seasonal vegetable accompaniments. From Meat-Free Monday to Around the World Thursday, each day offers a selection of delicious dishes and fun themes.

East Dunbartonshire’s caterers are also working with pupils to help them learn more about healthy eating and seasonality. They are also committed to theme days around educating pupils of where their food comes from 

Councillor Paul Ferretti, Convener of the Place, Neighbourhood & Corporate Assets Committee, said: “This is a great achievement for the Council’s school meals service, building on the already excellent standards they have achieved to ensure that our Primary School pupils receive a first class service.

“The expansion of this award to cover our 22 Early Years centres and Nurseries shows the Council’s commitment to serving up healthy lunches that are environmentally friendly and as locally sourced as possible.

“Our lunch menus offer a variety of balanced meal options and I would urge families who don’t already use the service to take a look at what’s on offer. This latest award is testimony to the quality service that is available to local children.

“Congratulations to everyone, including those in our school kitchens across the area, whose hard work has been recognised with this award.” 

Sarah Duley, Head of Food, Food for Life Scotland, said: “We would like to congratulate East Dunbartonshire Council 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 meal that’s healthy, freshly prepared and sustainably produced.

“In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, access to a hot, nutritious school meal has never been more important, and we would like to thank catering teams in East Dunbartonshire for the care and hard work they put in to delivering this every single day.”