Lack of pupil consultation on school meals comes under fire

Pic: TSPL
Pic: TSPL
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Concerns have been raised over the lack of engagement with pupils over school meals.

At the Cowdenbeath area committee on Wednesday, councillors expressed their disappointment that officers did not send a questionairre to youngsters to get their input.

The moves come after the quality of the food was criticised as “disgusting” in summer.

The comments csame from Bailey-Lee Robb, a member of the Scottish youth parliament (MYSP) who tabled a motion to look at the quality and cost of school meals, working with pupils to find out why less than half them in high school opt for the lunch service.

Meals are currently sourced from Scotland Excel, a Scottish Government procurement service.

In a report last week,  officers said that they were limited on what food they could provide, due to health and wellbeing regulations, and that pricing – another area of concern – was set to cover costs of providing the meals only, not to make a profit.

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Tariq Ditta, senior manager facilities management services, said: “Coming up with menus is difficult because there are so many nutritional values that we have to meet.

“We take on board the previous comments made and sales history to create a draft menu. We then enter that into the system calculator, which tells us if we need to reduce, for example, the level of sugar in dishes for the week.

“Once we have a draft menu, we send it out for a sample test.

“All in, it takes about six months to create a new menu.”

Mr Ditta added: “It’s a substantial piece of work, but we are here to serve the public. We’re not short of resources, and while it may take a while to get right, it is our top priority.”

Councillor Linda Erskine, committee convere, said she was happy to hear the menu could be looked at, but added: “I am very disappointed that this questionnaire didn’t go out to the students.

“The thing that matters most is kids’ voices have got to be heard.

“I understand the difficulties in planning meals due to regulations, which I have to add some seem very excessive, but I wanted to record my concerns that officers haven’t fully complied with the motion.”