Orkney Islands Council’s School Meals’ Service has been given a resounding endorsement by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) inspectors.
A re-accreditation inspection of the Council’s FFLSH Bronze Award carried out recently resulted in the service achieving a “fantastic” report with no actions required.
The Council’s Head of IT and Facilities, Hayley Green, said: “The Council and the School Meals’ Service achieved the FFLSH Bronze Award at the end of December 2020 – despite the challenges faced by the pandemic – that in itself was a massive achievement. To receive this excellent endorsement of the service moving forward is testament to the first-class catering staff we have here in Orkney and quality local producers.”
The catering teams serve up around 2,000 hot and nutritious meals daily to pupils across Orkney’s 16 certified primary schools, three certified junior high schools and two certified secondary schools.
This is managed by the Council’s School Catering Manager Scott Pring, who praised the efforts of all staff involved in maintaining the high standard.
“I would like to congratulate all catering staff within the service who worked so hard to achieve the Bronze Award in the first place, and now to be re-accredited with such a resounding thumbs up gives the recognition that is so well deserved. Thanks must also go to our fantastic local suppliers for the quality produce that we are able to source right here on our doorstep.”
The Food for Life Scotland programme is run by the Soil Association Scotland and funded by Scottish Government. The programme aims to help school catering staff serve freshly prepared meals made from locally produced ingredients that are healthy and sustainable. Orkney Islands Council works closely with suppliers including local butcher Williamsons, Orkney Fisherman’s Society, Crantit Dairy and Argos Bakery to source fresh, local and sustainable ingredients as part of its Food for Life certified meals.
The Food for Life Served Here award recognises councils that are serving school meals which are made from fresh ingredients, use free-range eggs and higher welfare meat, and are free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.
The inspection was carried out remotely due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The Inspector commented: “A fantastic annual remote inspection to Bronze Award level. Great to hear about the local sourcing of Orkney products and the introduction of laptops, etc, in kitchens to keep up communication and training with FFLSH via Teams. Well done.”
Councillor Gwenda Shearer, Chair of Orkney Islands Council Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, said: “I am delighted that Orkney Islands Council’s school catering team have received such positive feedback from the inspectors which further demonstrates the high-quality meals being served to our children and young people across all Orkney’s schools.
“Orkney is world renowned for its quality local produce, which is regularly sourced by top chefs for their restaurant menus. The same produce, which often originates on a farm ‘next door’ and from the seas around our coastline, is used to create fresh, balanced, nutritious and tasty meals for our children and young people – food they want to eat.
“We have long been proud of the standard and range of meals in our schools. As some families face ever more difficult circumstances during the pandemic, never has it been more important to ensure our children and young people receive the option of a nutritious meal – improving pupils’ health and learning potential and introducing good food habits from a young age.
“The variety and choices available are extensive with something for everyone – from homemade soups, sandwiches, wraps, baked tatties, to a main meal, pudding, fruit and yoghurt. We are also supporting our local economy and doing our bit to reduce food miles by sourcing from Orkney businesses where we can.
“Well done to all involved in maintaining such a high standard.”