Authority’s food strategy is boosting local economy


A council in North East England says that its policy of using locally sourced food for school meals is giving the local economy a massive boost.

Gateshead Council’s school catering service spends £1.8 million on raw ingredients a year and buys as much of it locally as possible.

It believes that this is one of the reasons that uptake of school meals at Gateshead schools is rising. 

The school catering service currently serves lunch to around 10,000 pupils a day – the highest number since 2004.

Now the council has gone one step further and published a map to show parents and children exactly where the ingredients for their school dinners come from.

It shows, for instance, that every piece of fresh meat and poultry served by schools is supplied by a catering butcher who sources meat only from local farms.

All eggs are free range and come from a family farm near the village of Bumopfield while potatoes, swedes and leeks come from suppliers in rural Northumberland.

Councillors say that buying ingredients locally means that school food is fresher, food miles are reduced and local farmers and businesses benefit from the money spent.

Angela Douglas, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “It’s true that we could probably make our meals more cheaply if we used processed, pre-prepared foods from some of the industrial food suppliers, but those days are long gone.

“That’s not the kind of food we want to serve our children. We want our children to enjoy a balanced, nutritious meal that is freshly cooked in school from the best and freshest ingredients – the sort of meals that their parents would want them to have.”

Gateshead Council also insists that fish supplied to schools is Marine Stewardship Council approved, meat and poultry meets the Red Tractor standard, and all cocoa, sugar and bananas come from Fairtrade suppliers.


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