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WATCH: Catering staff from Highlands awarded for their work to promote healthy, sustainable and locally sourced food in local schools

By Ian Duncan

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Yesterday a selected group of catering staff from the Highlands and the rest of Scotland gathered at an event in Edinburgh to be awarded as Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors.

Ambassadors have been selected as a result of their work within their school, community and local authority to push forward the good food movement.

Anja Fulestad, the head cook at Croy Primary School, has been awarded as the Food for Life Scotland Ambassador for Highland Council.

She has been made an ambassador for her work hosting cooking lessons, growing food in the school polytunnel and holding seasonal picnics with pupils at the school.

Through teaching students about food, she gives them the knowledge needed to make better food choices and encourages them to try new flavours.

Katy Richardson, the cook in charge at Lochardil Primary School was also awarded as the Food for Life Scotland Ambassador for Highland Council.

She has increased awareness of Food for Life within the school, which is a big school with 450 children and two large dining halls in use every day.

The uptake of hot meals has increased as she has adapted the menu to include more cooking from scratch, set up a menu board in the school and encouraged students to make posters about healthy eating.

Sarah Duley, head of food at Food for Life Scotland, said: “As communities across Scotland continue to grapple with uncertainties, from climate change and the impact of the pandemic, to supply chain disruptions and the increased cost of living, the need to improve access to food that’s nutritious and freshly prepared, at the same time as being sustainably and locally produced, has never been more important.

“Our Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors put their all into providing the best possible meals for Scotland’s young people every single day. We hope that we can shine a spotlight on the actions of these individuals to show what’s possible in school meals and inspire others to join in the mission of creating a ‘Good Food Nation’ in Scotland.”

Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, said: “I would like to congratulate the newly awarded Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors who have been selected as a result of their commendable work within their schools, communities and local authorities.

“It’s great to see their achievements being recognised as we celebrate them as changemakers within our local communities.

“The Food for Life Scotland programme is continuing to make a big difference to the lives of many young people across the country. This wouldn’t have been achieved without the tireless efforts

of our catering teams across the length and breadth of the country.

“With 26 million ‘Food for Life Served Here’ meals being served across Scotland every year, the positive impact is evident and the movement is no doubt set to grow further.”

The aim of the Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors programme is to shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes of the revolution that’s going on behind the scenes in school meals.

Catering staff have battled against the odds over the last couple of years facing unprecedented challenges, from the pandemic, to supply chain shortages and price rises, and all in the name of getting healthy, sustainable and locally sourced food onto pupils' plates.

The Food for Life Scotland Ambassadors programme launched in November 2021. After taking part in a number of workshops, the ambassadors have created and set out on their own individual action plans within their local authority.

These ranged from growing projects to cooking clubs for parents to a student council that selects a monthly seasonal recipe for their school's menu.

These projects are now underway, and the ambassadors will continue to champion good food in their communities.

The ambassador programme was set up by Food for Life Scotland, run by Soil Association Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government.

It supports local authorities to serve school meals that are good for pupil’s health, good for the environment and good for the local economy by supporting them to achieve the Food for Life Served Here award for their school meals service. This can be certified at three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

Ambassador action plans include upgrading their awards, and a range of other activities which align with award criteria such as fostering stronger engagement with schools & local communities, raising awareness of the initiative, piloting the programme in a secondary school and reducing food waste.

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