Healthy School Meals in Orkney Using Local Produce

school pupilsHealth and well being today is very much about preventative measures to address problems which may arise later in life due to habits we form when young.

Eating well balanced meals is not always easy for some families depending on your circumstances and the foods you can afford.

For children what is on offer for school meals is an opportunity to provide them with Healthy Eating options.

The schools meals service in Orkney has complied with Scottish Government guidance since 2002. These have since been updated and can be found here: Healthy Eating in Schools: A Guide to Implementing the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008

Eat well plate

The guidance followed on from the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 which set down duties and powers that the Scottish Government and councils had to undertake.

They were:

  • imposes duties on the Scottish Ministers, education authorities and managers of
    grant-aided schools to endeavour to ensure that public schools and grant-aided schools are health promoting
  • places duties on education authorities and managers of grant-aided schools to ensure that all food and drink provided in schools complies with nutritional requirements specified by Scottish Ministers in regulations
  • places a duty on education authorities to have regard to the nutritional requirements regulations when purchasing a place at an independent school
  • gives education authorities the power to provide pupils with snacks, either free of charge or subject to a charge
  • places a duty on education authorities to promote school lunches and, in particular, free school lunches
  • places a duty on education authorities to take steps to protect the identity of those receiving free school lunches
  • places a duty on education authorities and managers of grant-aided schools to have regard to any guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers on the application of the principles of sustainable development when providing food or drink or catering services in schools

Orkney Schools Meals Service

In Orkney there is a six week cycle of menus in school. The  aim is to provide a good balance of meal options based on a mix of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, salads and fresh fruit.

The menus are balanced on a weekly basis using menu analysis software to ensure that they meet the nutritional targets set in the current regulations.

Orkney also endeavours to use  local suppliers with  around 45% of food used in the menus  locally sourced including meat, bread, fish, milk, potatoes and some root vegetables. All except 3 schools produce their meals where they are being served.

The food standard regulations also apply in the KGS Hostel.

The cost of a 2 course school meal in Orkney is £2.30 for Primary Schools and £2.40 in the Secondaries. The meals are subsidised to allow them to keep down the price. All children in P1 – P3 in Scotland receive a free school meal. For older pupils a Free School Meals and Clothing Allowances form requires to be sent in . You can find out more about that on the OIC website: here.

Foodbanks have already voiced concerns that their stocks are running low as families will require to make more use of them during the school holidays.

The Scottish Government has a £1.5 million Fair Food Fund to tackle food insecurity for families during the school holidays. It supports community based organisations supporting families to enable access to healthy and nutritious food.

Consultation on School Meals

The Scottish Government are now consulting the public on revisions to the current regulations for school meals. You can read the consultation document here.

The “consultation deals with the nutrient content of food and drink provided in

“It will not seek comments about how food and drink is delivered in schools, for example, dining hall facilities or length of the school lunch break which is covered by the guidance document ‘Better Eating, Better Learning – a new context for school food’.

“It will also not seek comment relating to food education such as cooking skills which is delivered through Curriculum for Excellence and cannot be addressed by making changes to the school food and drink Regulations.”

Key themes for the consultation:

  1. Increase access to fruit and vegetables
  2. Reduce the sugar content of school food and drink provided in schools
  3. Provision of red and red processed meat
  4. A change to the application of nutrient standards in secondary schools

You can find the consultation document and survey by following the link Nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools: consultation

A spokesperson for the Schools Meals Service in Orkney said:

“The Scottish Government is consulting on possible changes to the current regulations and  it’s likely that some aspects of our menus will see some changes once the review is completed, however this is part and parcel of keeping school meals aligned with the most up to date advice and medical knowledge.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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