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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Scotland 'leads way' on school meals
School meals
Scotland has nutritional targets for school meals
Meals in Scotland's schools are providing a role model for the rest of the UK, according to food campaigners.

The Soil Association has praised the Scottish Executive for setting nutritional targets.

But director Patrick Holden said ministers could still do better by fixing targets in areas such as the use of local produce and fresh ingredients.

He was speaking following publication of a report which said primary school meals in England and Wales cost 35p per head.

The Soil Association's study said this compared to the UK Government's spending of about 60p a head on prison food.

The campaigning group, which promotes organic produce, described the school meals as "muck off a truck" and warned that this was storing up health problems.

Nutritional targets

The report recommended that England and Wales should follow the lead of Scotland, where an extra 63.5m is being spent over three years on school meal reform.

The executive made the investment after accepting the recommendations of an expert group set up to examine the nutritional value of school meals, 56.4 million of which are served in Scottish schools each year

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Mr Holden said: "We have suggested that the Scottish Executive has to some extent become a role model for England and Wales.

"In Scotland you do have nutritional targets for your school meals, whereas in England and Wales there are none.

It would be very good for Scotland's agricultural economy if more farms were directly connected to their schools
Patrick Holden
Soil Association
"But we do feel that there is room for further progress by setting targets for localness, for fresh ingredients and for organicness for meals."

He said the setting of similar targets in Italy had led to a "revolution" in the country's schools.

He said kitchens had been reintroduced and parents were encouraging their children to eat the meals.

"This is great for the local economy, and it would be very good for Scotland's agricultural economy if more farms were directly connected to their schools," he said.

The Scottish Executive said recent research had found the average cost of a school meal in Scotland could vary between 1.68 and 2.00.

If organic foods can play a part in our efforts to improve nutrition, then we will consider that option carefully
Scottish Executive spokesperson
A spokesperson said the executive was determined to improve the quality and nutritional content of schools meals.

"That is why we set up the independent, expert panel to look into this, whose recommendations we accepted in full in February, and are now investing an additional 63.5m over the next three years to support implementation of their report.

"The measures include the provision of larger portions of more nutritious food at no additional costs to parents, free fruit for children in P1 and P2, the introduction of new nutrient standards for school meals and detailed mechanisms for monitoring their implementation at a local and national level.

"If organic foods can play a part in our efforts to improve nutrition, then we will consider that option carefully," said the spokesperson.


SEE ALSO:
School lunches 'cheap muck'
06 Oct 03  |  Education
School meals bill wins backing
11 Jun 03  |  Scotland
School meal changes bear fruit
19 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Action on school meals
27 May 03  |  Scotland
Teachers back 'brain food'
19 Jun 02  |  Scotland


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