CATERING staff at schools throughout East Lothian are celebrating after picking up an award for the sixth year in a row.

East Lothian Council serves 3,700 meals a day across its 35 primary schools and has received the Soil Association Scotland’s Bronze Food for Life Served Here Award.

The award is an independently assessed scheme, backed by the Scottish Government, which supports local authorities to put more local food on school dinner plates and serve freshly prepared, sustainable meals.

It recognises and rewards councils that are serving food made from fresh ingredients, using free-range eggs and high-welfare meat, and free from genetically modified ingredients and undesirable additives.

The boost in use of local produce is also linked into educational activities.

Lorraine Faulds, senior officer in facilities management services for East Lothian Council, said: “George Anderson and Sons has been our distributor and supplier of fresh vegetables for several years.

“They organised a competition for schools to grow their own potatoes and the school with the highest yield got to visit to see potatoes being graded and so on.

“The school cooks were able to use the produce that the children had grown as part of the lunch-time experience.”

George Anderson and Sons, based at Macmerry, is among those involved in the scheme and supplies fresh vegetables from across East Lothian.

Mike Robertson, the firm’s general manager, said: “East Lothian has been called the ‘Garden of Scotland’, with asparagus, cauliflower, cabbages, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, leeks and mushrooms all grown here over the last 10 years, and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to use these local growers and suppliers.

“We are currently uplifting potatoes from Scotchip at Samuelston Mains near Pencaitland, Brussels sprouts from East Lothian Produce at Haddington, and Primo and Savoy Cabbages from P Stuart & Sons at East Fortune.

“With two or more vehicles delivering within East Lothian, we’re able to collect produce from the farms on their return to the warehouse, cutting down on food miles and emissions. We have also run potato competitions with the primary schools within East Lothian on an annual basis.

“This consists of planting potatoes before the summer school holidays and harvesting them when they return, with the school with the highest yield winning the prize.”

ONE sample weekly menu for primary school pupils in East Lothian offers:

Monday – Chicken dinner and roast potatoes or curried vegetable noodles;

Tuesday – Salmon and broccoli pasta or Quorn fajita;

Wednesday – Lentil steak pie and mashed potato or Italian vegetable bake;

Thursday – Fish and chips or lentil dahl