Stirling’s experience helping US school meals
In March Stirling Council was invited to take part in a major conference staged by the United States National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI).
The Council’s Service Manager in charge of school meals Margaret Gilmour was one of four Scottish Managers invited to take part in a Webinar from the Scottish Government’s offices in Edinburgh.
The symposium was for the Food Service Directors for the 40 major cities in the US including New York City, Los Angeles and Washington who are collectively responsible for over 80% of the 33 million meals school meals provided each day in the 120,000 schools in the US.
The Deputy Under Secretary of State for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Dr Janey Thornton and The White House Chef and Senior Policy Adviser Sam Kass also spoke at the event. Sam Kass is personal chef to the Obama family but he also doubles as White House senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives supporting the first lady’s campaign to tackle childhood obesity.
The US is in the process of implementing their Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, which is strikingly similar to Scotland’s Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) Act. The web broadcast featured Robin Gourlay from the Scottish Government presenting on Scotland’s approach to school diet, health and nutrition which is a key aspect of health and well being in the Scottish curriculum, this was followed by questions to the panel of Local Authority Managers.
Margaret Gilmour said: “The US is particularly interested to see and hear how we have approached the implementation of our school meals legislation. They were keen to share their concerns about the challenges and to hear how Scotland has tackled these. This attention from the US is clearly a significant feather in the cap for Scotland, Stirling and the other local authorities taking part.
“Culture change around food, particularly in schools, is an area where great progress has been made but reviewing how young people think about food and make choices is vital in order to make a difference. Scotland is also receiving international interest in its National Food and Drink Policy that prioritises food for good health, food in education and how the food we use can have less impact on climate change as well promoting Scotland’s food and drink sector. The tone from our side was realistic about the challenges for school food and the interest from delegates in the US was amazing”.
Following the session Dr Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary of State said ‘There were many positive comments on Scotland’s contribution to this major US symposium. It's very interesting to folks here that our countries have so much in common in taking forward the transformation of school food. Sam Kass was keen to hear about the great things going on in Scotland. He was especially impressed with the value and importance Scotland places on making sure that there is adequate time to eat at school’.