Edinburgh school achieves silver Food for Life standard

Edinburgh Academy Junior School has been recognised by the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme for the quality and sustainability of its catering offer

Edinburgh Academy Junior School has become the first independent in Scotland to attain the silver standard in the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here (Scotland) programme.

The award is also being celebrated by independents by Sodexo, the company responsible for the school’s catering for more than a quarter of a century.

The accreditation recognises the school’s continued commitment to making good food an easy option and championing environmentally sustainable, ethical options sourced by local suppliers.

“The relationship built between the headteacher and the caterer are particularly strong, and they work closely together to provide the best experience they can for pupils,” said Caron Longden, development lead for Food for Life.

“Some vegetables are grown on site, all waste is composted, and work has been done to ensure the ingredients used in the service meet good animal welfare standards, including organic milk from a local dairy.”

Several initiatives have been introduced by Edinburgh Academy Junior School in a bid to help pupils understand the issues around food, as well as giving them a sense of ownership over catering.

A small group of students act as representatives for their peers, feeding back thoughts on menu design and discussing culinary likes and dislikes with head chef, Karen Purves, and catering manager, Shona McGregor.

“This is a great award to achieve,” said McGregor. “It takes a lot of hard work to pull together the evidence for the Food for Life assessment.

“I have worked at the academy for several years, and I am committed to ensuring every pupil has a positive experience in the dining room and that we provide healthy, fresh and seasonal options to support pupil wellbeing and the environment.”

McGregor heads a team of eight people serving 550 meals a day, invariably including healthy food options, salad bar, fresh vegetables and vegetarian meals.

At least 5% of the ingredient budget is spent on organic produce, utilising Sodexo’s relationships with several Scottish growers, farmers and producers.

Seeing such polices translate into gaining the Soil Association’s silver award has been a long time coming, said Amanda Vettese, account manager (Scotland), independents by Sodexo.

She explained: “The ambition to reach the silver level, having already attained bronze a few years ago, was held up because of the Covid pandemic. Still, the award is a testament to the commitment and dedication of Sodexo and Edinburgh Academy working in partnership.”

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