Highland parents are being urged to ditch the packed lunch and give their children "great Food for Life".
Highland Council has achieved the Soil Association’s Silver and Bronze Food for Life Served Here award for serving fresh and healthy meals in Highland schools and nurseries.
All Highland’s schools and nurseries have received the Bronze Award.
The "Food for Life Served Here" award is raising standards of food quality, provenance and sustainability in public and private sector catering.
It provides an independent endorsement that caterers are taking steps to improve their food, through meeting standards on nutrition, freshness, sustainability and animal welfare.
The council’s catering service was "proud to provide good value meals using quality ingredients carefully sourced", a spokesperson said. Highland serves 18000 lunches per day in 173 primary and 29 secondary schools.
"They update their menus every six months and consult with pupils and staff to improve the food choices and recipes. The menus offer a choice of freshly cooked, nutritionally balanced meals and include many favourites. Seasonal meals are offered where over 75% of the menu is freshly prepared with ingredients that are GM free, with no undesirable E numbers or hydrogenated fats."
Councillor Allan Henderson, chair of the council’s Places Committee passed on his congratulations to the staff of Highland Council’s catering service for all their hard work and dedication.
"I have always been a huge fan of the excellent meals that our catering service provides in Highland schools. They provide quality food that is carefully planned to provide the best possible nutrition for our children in Highland."
Cllr Alasdair Christie, chair of the People Committee added: "I urge all parents who have children starting nursery or P1 this year to instil in them the healthy habit of eating school meals. Start the way you mean to go on - don’t waste your time and their future health by giving them unhealthy packed lunches – give them school meals always and you’ll be certain to give them great Food for Life."
Commenting on their achievement, Sue Nield, the council’s catering services manager said: "We’re delighted to have retained and expanded our Silver and Bronze Food for Life Served Here awards. We’ve always strived to serve fresh and nutritious good value meals using quality ingredients carefully and where possible locally sourced and this award recognises our commitment. We’re already thinking about how we can work towards expanding our Silver awards."
Soil Association Scotland’s acting director Angela Mitchell was delighted that Highland Council had renewed their Food for Life Served Here awards.
"Their award now also covers the 58 nurseries that are fed by adjoining primary schools which means 10,000 meals a day are being served and pre-school age children are also now eating healthier, sustainable meals every day.
"These awards are a testament to the hard work of catering staff and demonstrate a continued commitment to providing fresh and healthy school food, whilst also supporting local producers, and using organic and ethically sourced ingredients. We look forward to continuing to support Highland Council on their journey to make good food the easy choice in the dining hall as well as beyond the school gates."
Free school meals are provided for Primary 1 to 3 pupils – details at: www.highland.gov.uk/schoolmeals