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Highland Council confirms commitment to Food for Life

By Andrew Dixon

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Highland Council has reaffirmed its commitment to put more local fresh seasonal food on school dinner plates.

Catherine Pendreigh, Food for Life partnerships manager at the Soil Association gave a presentation to councillors yesterday on the accreditation already awarded to the council’s school meals and how this could be further developed in the future.

The Food for Life served here award is a widely respected and independently assessed scheme, supported by the Scottish Government, which aids local authorities to provide more local food and serve healthy, sustainable meals. It recognises and rewards councils that are serving food made from fresh ingredients, free from undesirable additives and trans fats, that meets UK welfare standards, and complies with national nutrition standards.

Despite the challenges of serving Scotland’s largest council area, which includes some of the most sparsely populated areas of the UK, this will be the 10th year running that Highland Council has achieved the Soil Association Scotland’s silver and bronze Food for Life served here award in its primary schools and nurseries.

Highland serves 10,740 meals a day across their 161 primary schools and nurseries. With menus updated every six months for seasonal variance. There is regular consultation with pupils and staff to improve the freshly-cooked nutritionally balanced food choices and recipes.

Ingredients sourced locally which pupils regularly enjoy include:

  • beef, pork, lamb and venison from John M Munro, Highland Butcher, all sourced within 50 miles of Dingwall;
  • Highland free range eggs and Graham’s Dairy organic milk; and
  • local fruit and vegetables from Swansons Fruit Company, Inverness, including potatoes from Nairn and cabbages from Kirkhill.

Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of the council's environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: “The council has long supported local food and farmers markets and we are delighted with our success in the Food for Life programme over the last decade.

“I would like to thank our catering staff for their hard work to make sure the menus offer plenty of seasonal, fresh and local produce. I would also like to thank our teaching staff for all their work in promoting to their pupils the many benefits of eating healthy foods and we look forward to working closely with the Soil Association in the future.”

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