New figures show West Lothian Council has dramatically increased the proportion of Scottish meat served in its school meals since joining the Food for Life Scotland scheme.
Since achieving the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here Bronze award for their school meals last November, 95 per cent of fresh butcher meat – and 88 per cent of all meat – served in West Lothian’s primary schools is now sourced from Scotland.
To achieve the Food for Life Served Here award, local authorities commit to serving only meat from farms that satisfy UK animal welfare standards.
As part of their work to achieve the award, 95 per cent of the fresh butcher meat that West Lothian Council source from Linlithgow based Campbell’s Prime Meats is now Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork – brands which are underpinned by whole chain assurance providing reassurance to consumers of provenance, the highest standards of production and animal welfare.
The Food for Life Scotland programme has been run by Soil Association Scotland since 2008 and supported by Scottish Government since 2012, with the aim of supporting councils to get more Scottish food onto school dinner plates and serve healthy, sustainable meals.
The Food for Life Served Here award recognises councils that are serving school meals made from fresh ingredients, using free-range eggs and high-welfare meat, and free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is great news. The provision of fresh, local, sustainable produce such as quality assured, lean and red Scottish meat is not only an important part of a child’s diet, but also beneficial to our farmers, and to the environment – by reducing the miles that food has to travel from ‘farm to fork’ and therefore reducing emissions.
“I hope that others follow West Lothian Council’s lead, and adopt the Food for Life programme in their area.”
Tom Conn, executive councillor for the Environment at West Lothian Council, said: “Last October, we joined the Food for Life Scotland programme.
“Within a few months 95 per cent of all our fresh butcher meat was Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork which is a significant change to the purchasing profile.
“Our school meals have always sought to provide pupils with a healthy, balanced meal but we have made huge strides forward over the past year, which we’re very proud of.
“Being part of FFL helps our children to have a healthier and more sustainable diet, it also delivers clear benefits for the local economy.
“West Lothian food producers can be proud that their fresh products are ending up on the dinner plates of local school children, which is good news for everyone.”
Jamie Fisher, service Manager at West Lothian Council added: “Our previous menu was fully compliant with required nutritional standards, but the Food for Life programme has helped us go above and beyond that with a focus on locally sourced, in season ingredients, which are unprocessed and freshly prepared.
“Catering staff are passionate about feeding pupils a healthy, balanced diet. The enthusiasm of the staff for the Food for Life scheme has been fantastic to see. “
Alan Williamson from Campbell’s Prime Meats said: “We are immensely proud to be part of the Food for Life Scotland programme. A lot of our workforce live locally with children in West Lothian schools, so it is a project that is very close to home.
“We have worked with Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork for a long time and know the high standards for welfare and traceability the brands bring.
“It gives us a great sense of pride being able to provide the children in the community with these excellent quality products.”
Kate Rowell, chairwoman of Quality Meat Scotland, the organisation which promotes the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands on behalf of the Scottish red meat industry, welcomed the news.
She said: “The increase of quality, assured Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork served in West Lothian Council’s school meals is fantastic news and a great vote of confidence in the hard work by Scottish farmers to produce products which offer world-leading levels of traceability and welfare standards.”
“We look forward to other Scottish local authorities seizing the opportunity to increase their Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork offerings in order to provide the best possible local, fresh red meat for the next generation.”
Sarah Duley, head of Food at Soil Association Scotland offered her congratulations.
She said: “The commitment of West Lothian Council to increase local sourcing as part of their Food For Life Served Here Bronze award has been outstanding.
“By working with local suppliers, such as Campbell Prime Meats, the Council is supporting the local economy, reducing food miles, and supplying top quality Scottish food for the primary school children of West Lothian.”