Date: Thursday 1 May 2008
Source school (and hospital) dinners locally, like East Ayrshire
The pioneering fresh, local and healthy school meals enjoyed by
East Ayrshire children should be standard in all Scotland's schools,
hospitals and prisons, Scottish education union, UNISON said today.
UNISON launched its new Food for Good Charter at one of the East
Ayrshire schools that helped show how healthy, sustainable meals
can be provided at a reasonable cost.
The union wants to see Food for Good introduced across the public
sector to help change the diet and health of the nation. It has
recommended the changes in a response to the Scottish Government's
consultation on establishing a national food policy.
UNISON's Dave Watson, School head teacher, Christine MacLean, catering
manager, Moira Barrowman and school children were at at Gargieston
Primary School in Kilmarnock on Wednesday 30 April 2008 for the
Speaking at Gargieston Primary School in Kilmarnock, Dave Watson,
Scottish Organiser, will say: "Food for Good would improve the health
of children in schools and nurseries and of hospital patients and
prisoners as well as being good for the environment, for local suppliers
and those in the developing world.
"East Ayrshire has delivered a first class example of how public
sector catering can rise to the challenge and deliver quality, healthy
food. Food that is fresh and prepared and sourced locally where
possible. And provided at a cost within the standard range local
authorities already pay. The Food for Good Charter addresses a range
of issues including sustainability, health, fair trade, proper pay
and employment conditions and animal welfare".
Lilian Macer, Chair of UNISON's Health Group Executive and herself
a hospital chef in Lanarkshire said; "We believe that sustainability
should be at the heart of food policy. The aim for all public sector
catering should be to give a daily option of an organic/ethically
produced main meal. Previous policies such as Compulsory Competitive
Tendering, PFI, and outsourcing led to mass-produced cook-chill
and cook-freeze products being transported hundreds of miles in
order to cut costs at the expense of a quality service."
Robin Gourlay, Head of Facilities Management at East Ayrshire Council,
instigated the award-winning initiative at primary schools under
the Hungry for Success programme and later adopted the Soil Association's
Food for Life scheme.
He said: "We must be able to teach children to be knowledgeable
consumers of tomorrow who understand the impact of food on their
health and on the environment. Our catering staff who provide school
food understand the vital role they have within the context of an
educational environment in achieving that goal. UNISON's Food for
Good campaign also recognises the bigger picture and acknowledges
that the public sector generally, and that local authorities who
have clear community regeneration and well-being responsibilities,
can become leading actors."
Notes to editors:
1. A Scottish Executive evaluation in 2006 of the East Ayrshire
initiative to introduce local organic food to schools said the "ingredient
and administration costs have gone up modestly, though they remain
within the range that many Local Authorities are already paying.
This allays to some extent the fear that increased costs would mean
local supply is not viable." Full evaluation at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/138163/0034389.pdf
2. UNISON Scotland's Response to the Scottish Government Food consultation
is at: http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/futurefood.html
- UNISON's Food for Good Charter is attached (below).
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Organiser) 0870 7777 006 (w) 07958 122 409 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0870 7777 006(w) 0771 558 3729(m) Robin Gourlay (East Ayrshire
Council) 01563 576089
Food for Good Charter for the public sector
1. Sustainability Food should be fresh, prepared locally and sourced
locally where possible. Mains-fed water coolers should be provided,
minimising the use of bottled water. Public bodies should produce
annual reports giving clear 'global footprint' type information
on all aspects of their food use, including e.g. % of fresh, local
food, progress on waste minimisation and recycling etc.
2. Health Universal free school meals should be recognised and
adopted as a major contributor to improving health and tackling
childhood obesity. The aim for all public sector catering should
be to give a daily option of an organic/ethically produced main
meal, ideally locally sourced. Vending machines on school/hospital
premises should be used for healthy alternatives, not junk/fast
3. Social Justice Fair trade food should be used where possible,
with targets of 50% by 2010 where relevant fair trade products are
available. Decisions about menu options should give consideration
to providing less meat-intensive diets, with more fresh, seasonal
fruit and vegetables and sustainable fish. Animal welfare must be
prioritised, with an aim for animal produce of using only recognised
farm assured schemes or organic schemes by 2015.
4. Excellence All food must meet quality nutritional standards,
monitored by relevant regulators. This involves excellence in procurement
and in staff training and conditions. The top priority must be the
contribution of food to health and wellbeing, with recognition of
the folly of previous policies that pursued Compulsory Competitive
Tendering, privatisation, PFI and outsourcing - cutting standards
and employment conditions, increasing the use of cook-chill and
cook-freeze food, and allowing 'fast' and junk food in schools and
hospitals. The public must have access to clear relevant information
about food, including via labelling and annual reports.
5. Skills Quality training and proper pay and employment conditions
for the sector, including training in environmental factors as part
of 'green workplaces'. Lessons for young people in primary and secondary
schools about the food chain, sustainability and preparation of
healthy meals. Public awareness campaigns on healthy diets, tied
in with support to local food co-operatives and similar initiatives
to improve access to quality food for the most vulnerable.