North Yorkshire County Council’s school catering service has been awarded the Soil Association’s prestigious Food for Life silver award for serving home-cooked, fresh, local and healthy foods to pupils.
The County Council’s catering team includes cooks from 330 schools in North Yorkshire and the City of York. North Yorkshire has become the largest county in the UK to win the award which recognises a commitment to serving fresh, environmentally sustainable, organic and ethical food, championing local producers and making healthy eating easy.
“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.”
Last year the County Council’s school meals service spent nearly £6m on food supporting local and regional producers to provide top-quality, fresh ingredients for the schools it supports.
“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,” added Cllr 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 also places great importance on up-to-date training and skills throughout the careers of school catering staff, ensuring they are always abreast of the latest in food standards and safety.
To facilitate this, there are four food excellence and skills training kitchens across the county that have been in operation for over a decade.
“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,” said Cllr Mulligan.