Our latest analysis of Scottish primary school menus shows that primary school meals continue to improve in certain areas since our first report in 2017. This year, we found that:
Whilst we also found that puddings are served more frequently and there has been no reduction in the number of local authorities serving chips and pizza since our 2017 report, we remain encouraged by the improvements noted in our 2019 review, and hope that local authorities will continue to build on their commendable progress
This year, we included school meals uptake analysis for the first time. Around 60% of primary school children in Scotland eat school meals, down from a high of 66% in 2016. School meals provide a unique opportunity to drive the dietary change we need in Scotland and act as an exemplar for healthy eating.
Impact of COVID-19 on School Meals
From Friday 20th March, all schools in Scotland closed in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. The Scottish Government quickly set in place guidance and funding for the continued support of school children entitled to school meals, throughout the school closures. Several issues were recognised for each type of provision, whether it be cash payments, vouchers, or meal deliveries, and implementation of the new regulations for school food standards had to be pushed back to allow extra time to prepare.
COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, including our schools and school meals. Data in this report was collected prior to the pandemic, and at time of publication, there is little certainty of the format school meals will take moving forward. Some Local Authorities in Scotland are temporarily offering only cold school meal options, often in the form of 'grab-and-go' bags. As we move on from COVID-19, we should strive to not only return to, but build upon the progress noted in February, to support Scotland's children.
A Future Vision
As we move on from the challenges and obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, towards recovery and rebuild, we can begin to envision the ideal dining experience of primary schools in Scotland. A future vision encompassing positive, vibrant physical and social environments described above, alongside the provision of the best nutrition to support the growth, development and health of Scotland’s children. Following our fourth recommendation from our previous reports, ‘Create a positive physical and social environment for school meals’, we highlighted seven themes, inspired by Better Eating, Better Learning, which can determine how positive the school dining experience is.
In our 2020 report, we incorporate these themes into our future vision of the school dining experience.
Read the full report and summary report: