22 June 2021

Food for thought

We've co-written a discussion paper into 'good food' universal fee school meals

Scotland Excel has been part of a team of leading bodies that’s produced a report into what a good food provision for universal free school meals could look like, and how it can be achieved.

The paper ‘School Food in Scotland: The Good Food Case for Universal Free School Meals’ was written to make sure high quality, local produce is served up in schools, in the most sustainable way that also brings economic and social benefits to communities.

Scotland Excel worked with ASSIST FM, Nourish Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland, APSE, Soil Association, Public Health Scotland, The Food Foundation and COSLA to produce the paper.

It considers opportunities and recommendations for getting maximum benefits out of free school meals for Scottish children and young people, their communities, local economies and the environment.

Some of the discussions and ideas raised in the paper include:

  • The need for further investment in local procurement and sustainably produced ingredients to underpin community wealth building.
  • A reduction in food miles being achieved through coordinated distribution.
  • A restructuring of school food supply chains that supports maximum benefit for local producers, communities and the environment.
  • The potential for the Scottish Government to update procurement legislation to make it easier to specify local produce within tenders.
  • A national recipe book of school meals being created.
  • Food and drink manufacturing infrastructure being more aligned to the needs of school food procurement.
  • More focus on routes to market for local suppliers and support for them to be ‘tender ready’ to participate in school food procurement.

Councillor John Shaw, Convener of Scotland Excel, said: “We were delighted to be involved in this paper as it builds on the work we’ve been doing within our food portfolio on local sourcing of healthy food.  Over the past five years, spending by councils on Scottish products through Scotland Excel contracts has increased from £8.8m to £15.8m, and now accounts for more than 36% of our food portfolio spend. This is supporting Scottish businesses and reducing food miles. I welcome this paper and look forward to Scotland Excel continuing to play an important part in the role out of free school meals.”

Scotland Excel has a portfolio of food frameworks in place to help councils source a wide range of produce to be served up in schools and the wider community.

Read the report here.