Greater choice than ever with school meals

27 September 2017

Councillor John Cottee is the Committee Chairman for Communities and Place at Nottinghamshire County Council Schools now have greater choice in relation to school meals with bespoke menus which now include starters.

Our school meals team are committed to nutrition and good food and have given all 290 primary schools in the county a choice of meals to choose from – allowing them to shape their own menus for the first time. 

In the region of 6.5m meals were served in primary schools in the county during 2016-17 and for the first time this year, there are starters on the menu. 

The changes reflect changing tastes among school pupils and decisions related to the new menus were made at Student Voice forums, school assemblies and whole school voting, ensuring young people’s voices were heard. 

Every day, the school meals team feeds 48,000 children across the county with locally sourced food – with schools given a choice each week of seven starter dishes, 30 main dishes and 15 puddings. 

We have a close working relationship with our schools and wanted to give them a greater say in their school menu. This new system means that we can include more of the food choices which teachers, parents and carers and especially children themselves want. 

The new menu also means that we could change a food choice if requested by a school later in the year if they wanted. It is all about giving each school a greater say in their menus. 

Our school meals team builds up its food trends intelligence each year through a series of food forums in schools with children, teachers, parents and carers and governors, where people get to taste some of the dishes. 

These changes reflect a changing palette among today’s children who seem to be opting for healthier ingredients with an emphasis on savoury ingredients. 

There was a call for different varieties of fish so the menu reflects this with fish pie, smoked fish, tuna and sweetcorn pasta, salmon en croute, breaded fish and fish fingers. Among the desserts is pear sponge, which was proposed as an idea during a food forum. 

The menus also carry detailed allergen information for the 14 main allergens. Approximately 5% of pupils enjoying school meals have intolerances, so this information allows parents and pupils to make informed choices about what their child eats at lunch time. 

Councillor John Cottee is the Committee Chairman for Communities and Place at Nottinghamshire County Council

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