National recognition for Devon's healthy school meals

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL S healthy school meals have been recognised nationally for their quality.

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL'S healthy school meals have been recognised nationally for their quality.

The authority's Devon Catering and Cleaning Services, or DCCS, has been awarded the Soil Association's Food for Life Catering Mark.

Devon is only the third school meals' provider in the country to win a Food for Life Award across the whole service at this level.

It will be presented to county councillor Brenda Taylor and the head of DCCS, Sarah Skinner, by Prince Charles on Friday (Feb 20).

To win the award, Devon had to prove:

* At least 75 per cent of dishes on the menu are freshly prepared

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* Meat is farm assured as a welfare minimum

* Eggs are from free range hens

* More than a third of produce is locally sourced

* Menus are seasonal and in-season produce is highlighted

* Menus cater well for all dietary needs in the school population

* No undesirable additives or hydrogenated fats are used

Devon County Council's deputy leader and Executive Councillor for children's services, John Smith, said: "We have made a significant investment in improving the quality of school meals in Devon with the Fresh Start menu.

"I am delighted to see that our healthy school meals are now being recognised nationally and this is a great tribute to DCCS, our kitchen managers and their staff who work hard every day to produce nutritious, appealing menus for thousands of Devon children."

Joanna Lewis, Policy Manager at the Soil Association, said: "The Food for Life Catering Mark has been launched in response to public concern about the implications of 'cheap food' for health, animal welfare and the environment.

"It gives caterers across the public and private sectors a way of proving their commitment to the freshly prepared, ethically sourced food that customers are asking for.

"When eating out, people want reassurance that their food, and their children's food, is fresh, honest and additive-free.

"They want to know that the issues they care about, from animal welfare to climate change, have been taken care of.

"The Soil Association's Food for Life Catering Mark helps leading caterers give their customers that reassurance".

DCCS, which provides meals for 270 primary schools across Devon, will receive the bronze award on Friday and is now close to achieving silver.