School dinners: Pupils say ‘could do better’

The survey of young diners had serious some points for education authorities to consider. Picture: PHIL WILKINSON
The survey of young diners had serious some points for education authorities to consider. Picture: PHIL WILKINSON
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PUPILS across the Capital are demanding more say over what they eat at school, according to the authors of a new study.

Youngsters from Trinity and Castleview Primaries, and Trinity Academy, said bland dishes, long queues and cramped dinner halls were driving them to high street bakeries and supermarkets at lunch time.

And they said they wanted to see more choice on menus as well as greater use of local and seasonal produce by catering staff.

The “could do better” mark for school meals emerged in a national survey published by the charity Children in Scotland and comes as canteens recover from last year’s horsemeat scandal and revelations that chicken served to youngsters was being shipped in from as far away as Thailand.

Jackie Brock, chief executive, said: “The comments we received from the children during this project were really invaluable, highlighting both some of the things they enjoy about school meal times but also what they would like to see improved.

“They came up with some great suggestions on how to involve pupils themselves around decision making when it comes to school food and were enthusiastic about driving it forward.”

Primary and secondary school youngsters made a series of suggestions for how school meals could be made more appealing – from encouraging serving staff to be “happier” to reducing queues by boosting the number of till points.

The Edinburgh schools could now be included in a group of “pathfinder” campuses being lined up for implementation of pupil recommendations.

Ms Brock said: “The findings of this report come at a timely juncture when the Scottish Government are publishing their own revised guidance on food and eating spaces in schools, and we are confident some of the findings and
suggestions will be reflected in this.”

Education chiefs stressed school meal uptake across the city was at a five-year high but said they would listen to the views of pupils on what they are offered.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We are always looking at ways of making our school meals more attractive to pupils and great strides have been made in improving the quality and range of food our schools serve.

“Uptake in school meals in Edinburgh reached a five- year high with over 2.5 million being served last year and listening to the views of young people is important.”