Pictured: Supervisor, Irene Walber; Catering Assistants Janette O’Carrol, Jennifer Dixon and Adele McIlwraith.
Moray Council’s catering team has been recognised with a national award for its work in preparing and serving fresh, local and healthy food from its 45 primary school kitchens.
The ‘Food for Life Served Here’ award, run by Soil Association Scotland and funded by Scottish Government, has been achieved following an assessment and inspection to ensure food being served in schools across the local authority is good for pupils’ health, good for the environment and good for the local economy.
Moray Council has been awarded the bronze award which means that a minimum of 75% of dishes are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients.
Meals are free from undesirable trans fats, sweeteners, additives and all genetically modified ingredients.
Catering teams use free range eggs, higher welfare meat and ingredients from sustainable and ethical sources.
Around 17,500 meals are served in primary schools each week, using locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible.
This includes fresh milk from Graham’s Dairy in Nairn; free-range eggs from Allaburn in Elgin; seasonal vegetables from Swansons Fruit and Veg in Elgin; and quality meat from Fraser Brothers Butchers in Forres.
Meals are prepared from scratch, and all menus meet the nutritional standards for food and drink in schools, as required by law.
Moray Council recently reconfigured its school bakery contract to maximise opportunities to make it more accessible for local businesses to tender for the service, resulting in a Keith bakery being successful.
Catering Manager, Elaine McRae, said:
“School meals in Moray remain a popular choice for families as we prioritise serving healthy and nutritious meals using responsibly-sourced and ethical ingredients.
“I’m delighted that the dedication of the catering service has been recognised through this award; we’ll continue to ensure our primary pupils receive high-quality, tasty and nutritious food – and keep their favourite dishes on the menu!
“What’s also important for us is being able to support our local growers and food producers, and we spend around £58k a year with local suppliers for school meal provision.
“We encourage local businesses to look out for opportunities for partnering with us; procurement opportunities are advertised on Public Contracts Scotland.”
Head of Food at Soil Association Scotland, Sarah Duley, said:
“We are delighted that Moray have come onboard as the 18th local authority to achieve the Food for Life Served Here award, joining us in our mission to get fresh, local and sustainable food onto school plates across Scotland.
“Public procurement is an important tool that can be used to transform food production and supply, strengthen local economies and tackle climate change.
“This award recognises the fantastic work Moray Council is doing in building relationships with local suppliers and serving primary school children with nutritious and sustainably sourced food and gives the catering team the recognition they deserve.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:
“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in achieving this significant milestone.
“The Food for Life programme has made a big difference to the lives of many young people across the country and I welcome the addition of Moray Council to the growing number of local authorities across Scotland taking part in the Food for Life programme.
“Moray Council’s participation will have a huge impact on pupils and local producers.
“It will also contribute to our wider goals of becoming a good food nation, reducing inequality, and achieving net zero emissions by 2045.
“This is well-deserved recognition for the work done by the Council who are not only making sure that they are providing healthy and nutritious meals across their primary schools, but are now able to point to Food For Life as the framework that allows them to do so.
“I would urge other local authorities across Scotland to follow the example set by Moray Council and join them on the journey to making Scotland a Good Food Nation.”
All P1 – P5 pupils in Moray are eligible for free school meals.