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Liverpool - Fresh produce yields good behaviour

A new lunch menu, including more fresh produce, has resulted in a "dramatic" improvement in behaviour at a group of primaries in Liverpool.

Belle Vale's Our Lady of the Assumption recorded around 200 incidents of fighting and general misbehaviour in 2006. This dropped to half that figure in a year and now stands at just 35.

School leaders put the figures down to their decision to abandon council-supplied dinners and source their own food instead.

Food for Thought Merseyside is a consortium of 16 primaries, special needs schools and pupil referral units operating in south and central Liverpool. Six heads are directors at the not-for-profit company, which decided to cut out the middle man by buying its own produce for school dinners.

The meals are 20p cheaper than the council alternative and have proved so popular that the business now sells Pounds 1 million worth a year, giving each school a Pounds 20,000 share of the profits.

Chris Kirk, head of Our Lady, said the dinners, which include locally sourced fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, have improved children's self-esteem. "As well as the fresh food, we make dinner times a social experience where pupils can eat, be noisy and relax," she said. "In school, they are more wide awake and more inclined to sit and listen. Behavioural issues have dropped dramatically." RV.

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