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Free school meals to be extended to include primary 4 children
Home   News   Free school meals to be extended to include primary 4 children

Free school meals to be extended to include primary 4 children

Posted on 17 Aug 2021
North Ayrshire Council is encouraging families to take up the offer of free school meals when the new school term starts on 18th August.

More children across North Ayrshire will be entitled to free school meals as universal free school meals is extending from primary 1-3 to include primary 4 children.

This follows an agreement made between the Scottish Government and local authorities that will see more than 90,000 pupils across the country benefit from the free school meal support during term time.

The welcome news comes as the Council announced earlier this year that it had retained ‘Gold Food for Life Served Here’ award for the eighth 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 50 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 the ingredients using in the 6,200 Good Food For Life school meals served daily are produced in the UK and over 57 per cent of the fare comes from Scottish suppliers of which over 27 per cent of the annual spend is from Ayrshire food producers.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Green New Deal and Sustainability, said: “North Ayrshire Council is committed to delivering free healthy school meals to eligible children and young people.

“It’s fantastic more children will have free school meal entitlement to our award- winning healthy school meals. Retaining this gold mark gives our pupils and parents confidence in the quality of the ingredients used in our recipes.

“We are proud of our continued record in using local produce and supporting businesses in Ayrshire and across Scotland.

He added: “I would like to thank our incredible Facilities Management Service who are passionate about delivering high quality, healthy foods to North Ayrshire’s learners.”

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 Manager for Facilities Management, 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.”