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Tuesday 27 September 2011

Cheshire East gives fresh boost to school meals and local food suppliers


Cheshire East Council has given a fresh boost to school meals and local food producers and suppliers.

Currently the meat for school dinners provided by the authority’s catering service is brought in frozen from a national supplier.

But, from October 1, this will gradually be replaced with fresh meat supplied by three Cheshire businesses and one out-of-county firm which supplies locally.

The firms are: Barrows Butcher, of Bollington; Littlers Butchers, of Northwich; Steve Brookes Quality Cuts, of Sandbach; and Browns Food Service, of Rugby, Warwickshire.          

The 121 primary and 13 secondary schools that are served by Cheshire East catering will receive deliveries of fresh meat – much of it produced locally – twice a week under the new contracts.

Hilda Gaddum, Cabinet member with responsibility for children and family services, said: “This is good news for all concerned – for youngsters who enjoy our healthy and nutritious school meals and for our local butchers and food producers.

“The Council’s catering service is always striving to improve its standards of nutrition and provision as part of our commitment to helping improve the health and life opportunities of everyone in Cheshire East.

“I am delighted that we are further increasing the use of local fresh produce in our excellent school meals, which offer real value for money.”

Before the meat supply contracts were put out to tender, the Council ran a successful pilot project with Steve Brookes butchers supplying 11 local schools.

This was followed up with a ‘buyers day’ event in June to drum up interest in the tender process and to find out how to make it as simple as possible for potential suppliers to apply.

Cheshire East Council’s catering service was recently awarded the Soil Association’s ‘Food for Life Catering Mark’ bronze award.

One of the changes the service has made to help them gain the award is extending the use of ‘Farm Assured’ meat. Farm Assurance is a voluntary scheme which establishes production standards covering matters including food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare.

The bronze award requires that 75 per cent of meals on the menu are home made and that specific additives and colourings are not used. Another requirement is to include seasonal fruit and vegetables on the menu.

The service is also working in partnership with the NHS 5-a-day and Change4life campaigns to encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables and have a healthier, more-active lifestyle.

Cheshire East’s catering service’s fruit and vegetable supplier sources as many products as possible from the north west and Britain.

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