School dinners go for gold
North Ayrshire Council has retained the 'Gold Food for Life Served Here' award for the seventh year running.
Awarded by Soil Association Scotland, the prestigious Gold accreditation recognises the Council’s continued commitment to making good food the easy choice, championing environmentally sustainable, ethical food options, sourced by local suppliers.
The prestigious accolade has been awarded to all 49 North Ayrshire Primary Schools in addition to 15 early years centres and Arran High School.
And the latest figures show that the majority of ingredients for North Ayrshire school meals are from Scotland.
73 per cent of our ingredients are produced in the UK with over 57 per cent of our fare coming from Scottish suppliers of which over 27 per cent of the annual spend is from Ayrshire food producers.
Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place, said North Ayrshire Council is a front-runner when it comes to serving up delicious, healthy meals to our school children.
He said: “We are proud of our continued record in using local produce and supporting businesses in Ayrshire and across Scotland.
“Our pupils are able to enjoy some of the finest school menus anywhere in the country and the quality of the food is second to none.
“We are one of only two local Scottish authorities to hold the 'Gold Food for Life Served Here' award, and the only authority to hold it for every primary school and early years setting, so parents can rest assured that their children are getting the very best local produce available.
The Food for Life Scotland programme, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Soil Association Scotland, supports councils to get more local food on the table. Caterers are recognised for serving fresh food, sourcing environmentally sustainable and ethical food, making healthy eating easy and championing local food producers.
Achievement is independently certified at three levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold – with North Ayrshire achieving the highest certification every year since 2013.
The Gold award rewards local authorities for every penny spent on food produced in Scotland, and is only given to organisations serving up meals in which 15 per cent of ingredients are organic.
Carolyn Hope, North Ayrshire Council’s Senior Facilities Manager, says the Council goes to great lengths to ensure its catering team continues to use the best, local ingredients to retain the Gold 'Food for Life Served Here' award.
She said: “Each year, the Soil Association audits our Catering Units to inspect our food purchases, provisions stock and lunch menus to ensure compliance with their Gold Food for Life catering standard.
“We work hard to ensure we can support local suppliers by sourcing the healthiest possible ingredients. For example, almost 18 per cent of our fresh ingredients are organic including Scottish milk, pasta, rice, flour, meat and bananas.
“All the milk, yoghurt, cheese, seasonal fruit and vegetables are from Scotland when available, the eggs are free range from a local Ayrshire farm and our fresh fish is Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable seafood and fully traceable.
None of our food contains undesirable additives, artificial trans fats or GM ingredients and all our meat is ethically sourced to ensure UK welfare standards.
We take a huge amount of care over every single ingredient which goes into our school kitchens.
“We want our children to get the best possible start in life and, for me, that means serving up healthy, nutritious, local produce in our dining halls every single day.”