If your memories of school meals comprise half-cooked carrots and soggy semolina, then some of the items on the menu may surprise you. Pollock goujons, Moroccan chicken and salmon and sweet potato fishcakes are among the dishes that will be served up at 32 primary schools from Monday 5th November. Chris Wilson, Schools Catering Manager, said: ‘We are widening the choices available, with filled jacket potatoes available daily on the salad bars and, as a alternative to fresh fruit or the pudding of the day, toasted pumpkin seeds and raisins.’ School meals exceed key nutritional standards in areas such as fibre, protein, zinc and calcium and have less than the recommended amount of fat, salt and sugars – something that can’t be said about most lunchboxes, as many contain foods with hidden fats, sugars and salt, Mr Wilson said. ‘Our meals meet all the nutritional standards we adopted two years ago, which goes to show a healthy diet can be popular, too. ‘Schools recognise the benefits of children having a nutritionally balanced meal at lunchtimes. Not only does it teach good social skills but it improves concentration and learning in the afternoon. ‘Menus rotate on a four-weekly basis, so children don’t get bored with what they eat,’ Mr Wilson went on. ‘School meals can help encourage fussy eaters to broaden their eating habits by trying new tastes that they might not try at home. We also ask pupils for input into what we provide and make sure to include their favourites. Local produce – ‘some of the best in the world,’ Mr Wilson said – is used wherever possible, including in the cheese pie, which is so popular with pupils that one school presented a petition to save it when it was temporarily dropped. That also features on the winter menu. All the beef, lamb and pork served up, other than gammon, is from locally farmed animals. Take up of school meals increases in the winter, with six in 10 primary pupils enjoying a cooked meal costing £1.95. School meals staff serve more than 3,000 meals a day. Pupils can sign up for school meals at any time and schools collect the money either termly or half termly. For more information contact school administrators. ‘We are here to help so, if parents need more information about school meals, or about healthy eating, they should contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our wiki https://www2.sch.im/groups/schoolmeals1/ where there is a lot of information available.’
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