26 August 2021

Who's ready to try our new custard recipe?

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee considered a petition put forward by young people today (Thursday, August 26) regarding changes to school catering menus.

A new menu will be introduced following the October break, with new recipes for some old favourites which young people themselves have been campaigning for, alongside a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

William Dibb from The Gordon Schools who launched the petition while he was in P7 at Rhynie Primary School represented his peers in person during the meeting, explaining the importance of exercise as well as a healthy diet and the fact that other local authority areas have been able to retain some sweet treats. He said: “There has to be a better way… We want to see some balance in how the guidelines are implemented… Let us all have a healthy and balanced diet we can all enjoy.”

William was thanked for his “excellent”, “compelling” and “evidence-based” presentation by a number of councillors as well as senior officers.

Following the discussion, Committee Chair Cllr Gillian Owen remarked on how pleased she is with seeing “children’s rights in action” and explained: “Very well done to William and his friend Angus. We are absolutely committed to listening to the views of children and young people and I’m really pleased they felt empowered to write to us about something they feel passionate about.

“Ensuring we provide a range of healthy foods – in line with the latest nutritional guidelines, in partnership with local suppliers, making sensible, sustainable choices and also ensuring some of the things children tell us they like can be included – is no mean feat.

“Our priority has to be to ensure children and young people can enjoy a healthy start in life, and we want to engage with them about how we best deliver that.

“Our fantastic catering team has continued to work hard on menu design and gathering views from pupils, parent and school cooks since a new menu was introduced in March. They are also carrying out ongoing research with local suppliers as well as working alongside a dietician on new menu options.”

The petition ‘Save the Puddings in Aberdeenshire Schools’ which was received in June contains 847 signatures. This circulated during a similar period where the catering team themselves issued a survey on future menu options. They received 7,304 responses from both children and young people and parents and are using this feedback to shape the new menu alongside the petition.

Committee Vice Chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “The ask of us for more selection and types of food on school menus generally speaking is being addressed with a number of new options, including a new recipe for custard. The catering team plan to outline survey findings and how this is being addressed for families in more detail in a new service newsletter later next month.

“We’re really pleased to see this progressing in a positive way and would encourage children and young people to reach out to us with other matters of concern. With the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law, there has never been a better time for us to underline our commitment to children’s rights and as elected members we are here to listen and represent, and we are very keen to work with you.” 

Members also received a report asking them to acknowledge the current position with regards the incorporation of UNCRC into Scots Law, the associated opportunities and challenges, and work currently underway in Aberdeenshire. Two main areas have been identified where work is needed to ensure Aberdeenshire Council can have a beneficial impact in terms of embedding a children’s rights culture. These are around participation and engagement of young people and ensuring the best interests of children are considered when making decisions.

To read Education and Children’s Services Committee reports in full, please visit Aberdeenshire Council - Committees and Meetings

To watch a webcast of the Education and Children’s Services Committee please visit Home - Aberdeenshire Council Webcasting (public-i.tv)