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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
'Buy local food' call to schools
School meals
Schools are being urged to source food locally
Scotland's schools are being encouraged to give pupils more locally-produced food in their meals.

The call came from Environment Minister Ross Finnie, who said more local authorities should follow the lead set by East Ayrshire Council.

A pilot scheme in 11 primary schools saw more pupils eating school meals and led to an improvement in the quality of the food on offer.

Mr Finnie said more schools should "buy local and eat local".

The scheme was introduced at one East Ayrshire primary school in 2004 and then extended to 10 more schools the following year.

I want to see more councils looking at their tendering processes and trying out this approach in their schools
Ross Finnie
Environment Minister

Scottish Executive research found that the meals on offer had fresher, better-quality ingredients and there was also less packaging and waste.

Mr Finnie said: "This pilot project clearly shows that children are enjoying eating fresh, local ingredients and that they want even more in their school dinners."

He said there was no reason why small and medium-sized producers could not compete on price, quality and service.

The minister added: "I want to see more councils looking at their tendering processes and trying out this approach in their schools, so we really can buy local and eat local."

Councillor Tommy Farrell, chairman of East Ayrshire Council's education committee, said: "I am pleased with the impact of the pilot in educational terms. We are, after all, trying to produce educated consumers of tomorrow.

"The initiative is also an important commitment to the communities of East Ayrshire in social, environmental and economic terms.

"And, above all, the children most certainly enjoy the freshness, quality and taste of good Ayrshire produce."

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