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School meals require Jamie Oliver touch; WALES Canteens must sell healthy food ideas to win back pupils.


A RAPID fall in the take-up of school dinners on Anglesey will see free taster sessions offered to children and parents to tempt pupils back to canteens.

The number of kids having meals at the island's primary schools in December had fallen by more than 400 from the pervious year with the price of dinners being blamed The menus on offer have also come under fire.

In comes after Anglesey Council was also slammed because foreign meat was being served to pupils by the new contractor, Eden Foodservices.

But a report commissioned after a special meeting into the school meal situation found that 32% of its produce is now sourced locally, with all lamb and beef coming from Wales.

The report highlighted that the number of pupils having school meals at primary schools had fallen from 2,517 in December 2007 to 2,094 in December 2008.

Coun Peter Rogers, who raised the issue of foreign meat at schools, said: "The news on local produce is good but the fall in pupils taking up meals is a concern. There are always problems with change though and they need to sell these healthy options, not just to the children but to parents as well.

"They need to be like Jamie Oliver, selling the healthy options to pupils, that is the only way to change things."

Berkshire firmEden Foodservices took over the school contract back in September but were instantly mired in controversy after itwas found Belgium lamb and beef was being served to pupils.

Since then the company has worked with Anglesey Council and Hybi Cig Cymru to set up a deal to supply only Welsh lamb and beef.

The company is also getting produce from Mr Veg in Holyhead, Dwyran Bakery in Gaerwen, and Tomlinson's from Wrexham.

But problems remain over the uptake of meals and a series of initiatives have been put forward to tackle the issue.

These include setting up of a School Nutrition Action Group, visiting school councils for feedback from pupils, and organising taster sessions for parents and children.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2009
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