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Serving up food made at school; PRIMARY IS FIRST IN THE CITY TO COOK OWN MEALS.

Byline: By NICOLA JUNCAR Education Reporter

A PRIMARY school will become the first in Newcastle to cook its own meals.

St Teresa's Catholic Primary, in Heaton, is not renewing its contract for school dinners to be supplied through the city council.

Instead, from April school cooks will serve up homemade dishes sourced from fresh, local produce.

The primary is the first school in the city to embark on such a venture, which aims to teach pupils about where food comes from and the need for fresh, healthy ingredients.

Parents and pupils will have a say after St Teresa's board of governors set up a School Nutrition Action Group. Staff have also approached nutritionists, dieticians and doctors for their advice and support.

Headteacher John Harrison said: "We want to put fresh local food, cooked daily, on our own premises in front of our children."

Mr Harrison says the call for change has come from parents and children, but admits there are risks involved.

He said: "We will have to employ new staff, with all the baggage that brings from insurance to training.

"Other changes include finding new producers and retailers, equipping the kitchen, having alternative kitchen facilities off site, and having links to other food providers."

The school says the project is still in its early stages, but it hopes to attract the support of parents and the wider community before the new system begins on April 1.

Mr Harrison added: "At St Teresa's we strive for excellence for all our children.

This should be no different in helping pupils and staff to make choices about food.

"There is a strongly moral and ethical underpinning to what we are doing.

"Already our commitment to local foodstuffs excludes food carrying heavy carbon footprints.

"We are currently engaged in negotiating school allotments, nutrition workshops with local companies, farm visits, joint food preparation training with restaurant chefs and the provision of a food technology centre."

The school is distributing flyers to families in the area with the slogan: "Fresh and fun local food makes healthy, happy children."

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: "We are aware of the decision by the board of governors to bring school meals in-house and end St Teresa's catering agreement with the council.

"We will be offering informal and formal advice to the school during the transition period.

"While 'opting out' of school meals provision is not something we want to encourage, the school is perfectly entitled to do it.

"We are confident the school's management has the expertise and enthusiasm to make it a success."

CAPTION(S):

DELICIOUS: Pupil Gabriel Penman samples some healthy, fresh, local food PICTURES: ANDY COMMINS www.icNewcastle.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01249948; TUCKING IN: Cook-in-charge Julie Creighton and Daniel Riley try some homemade food; CHOICES: Children from St Teresa's Primary, left to right, Connor Steel, 10, Gabriel Penman, six, Roisin Samuel, five, and Daniel Riley, 11
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 15, 2008
Words:483
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