Leader: School meal review is welcome

Long gone are the days when school meals were simply a matter of pounds and pence '“ and as few pence as possible.

There has been a transformation in public attitudes towards food and healthy eating generally. Nowhere is this more important than at young age when healthy eating is a prerequisite of healthy growth and development and when good habits are formed. So the announcement by Education Secretary John Swinney of a review of school meals, while tardy is wholly to be welcomed.

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With schools providing some 360,000 meals a day, it is vital that children are given the best possible start on food nutrition. Eating well and healthily sets up children for life and should be seen as part and parcel of education in schools.

A welcome emphasis in the review is on the importance of sourcing food locally as far as possible – and Scotland has a deserved reputation for the quality and range of its food sources and products. At the same time good work has been done at Queen Margaret University on innovative foods and its preparation.

No longer is it the case that healthy food is a chore and a bore. And as for costs, food price rises have on the whole been moderate where they have not actually fallen. The excuse by some cash-strapped councils that fruit and vegetables might have to be cut if budgets are not in increased is poorly argued at best and displays a most unenlightened attitude towards higher standards in school meal provision. Mr Swinney’s review of school meals provision should be undertaken without delay and a firm date set for recommendations and action.