North Yorkshire school meals service gets Food for Life Silver award
The accreditation is the second highest mark available on the awards scheme which scores schools on their use of organic produce, ethical and environmentally friendly food, locally sourced ingredients and healthier menus.
The North Yorkshire County Council catering team includes cooks from 330 schools in the area. Its award win means the county is now the largest in the UK to have achieved the mark.
“We have been developing our fresh, locally procured food policy for many years, long before Jamie Oliver campaigned against turkey twizzlers”, said county councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s executive member for schools.
“Not only is this good for children and young people who can enjoy freshly prepared, high-quality food for their school meal, but it is also good for the local economy by keeping money in the region, supporting local and British farmers and creating employment for growers and suppliers.”
Mulligan added that the council’s school meals service spent nearly £6m on food supporting local and regional producers last year.
“This has been a huge group effort from all the schools and our team and we are delighted to have this award from the Soil Association,” said Mulligan. “Our food is fully traceable, produced to high welfare standards and home cooked from fresh in our kitchens, including home-baked bread.
“Our school cooks go to huge efforts to make sure children are served high quality meals which support their health and their learning. All eggs are free range, ingredients come from local suppliers and meat can be traced back to the farm. The amount of organic produce has also increased to 5% of all food used in schools.”
The catering service prides itself on the importance it places on the up-to-date training of its school catering staff, ensuring they are always abreast of the latest in food standards and safety.
There are currently four food excellence and skills training kitchens across the county that have been open for over a decade.
Mulligan added: “Working with our schools on this programme has given us the opportunity to really focus on what is important to us when delivering our service and looking after the needs of pupils. We are confident we can develop our offer even further.”