Healthy catering to the masses

Do your pupils turn their backs on school meals and rush to the nearest chip shop? In addition to the current national television campaign for healthy eating, the Scottish Executive is expected to launch radical guidelines on school meals next month, supported by funding for changes. Julie Morrice visits primary schools in the Forth Valley and Judy Mackie reports on an Aberdeen secondary, where a food revolution has begun

At Oldmachar Academy in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, the canteen buzzes with chatter pment project, involving planning and organisation, ethos, pupils interacting with each other and with the school, citizenship and behaviour.

It requires energy and constant constructive feedback. It involves teaching staff interacting with catering staff and with young people's views and requests being treated with respect.

"The issues range from micro-management aspects, such as ensuring the queues are orderly - we involve all our senior management in supervision and the queuing is staggered so that no one has to wait very long - to macro-management concerns, such as what can we do as a society to ensure our young people are eating as healthily as possible?"

The key to success, he believes, is to engage everyone in the core belief that healthy eating is an important part of school life.

Mr Leiper and his colleagues are confident that the forthcoming Government guidelines on nutritional standards for school meals will make an enormous difference to the types of food served to children across Scotland.

However, he emphasises that whole school and local authority commitment are essential if long-term change is to be sustained.

"It is not easy and it adds to all the other issues headteachers have to manage, but the prize is well worth the effort.

"It is one of the most important investments a school can make. After all, a good education is nothing without good health."

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