Over the summer, a range of more sustainable meat-free options have been introduced to primary school menus as part of ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme.
Across the UK, 110 primary schools have collaborated with ProVeg to produce new school dinner menus. Meat-Free Mondays and daily meat-free choices are among the changes that will carry into the new school year. The way meat-free dishes are described has been altered too, and the new descriptions encourage students to choose meat-free dishes.
Jimmy Pierson, Director of ProVeg UK, said: ‘We all want children to thrive and these new-look, healthier menus are a big step in the right direction. Eating more plant-based foods is such a great way to improve children’s health in the short term – particularly by helping to reduce childhood obesity – and also in the long term by helping to reduce the risk of all kinds of chronic health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.’
Because of various commitments made by schools and local authorities this summer, approximately 3.1 million meat-based school meals will become meat-free over the next year.
Pierson explained: ‘It’s so important that children establish healthy eating patterns at an early age – and schools play a key role in this. The fact that plant-based foods are better for the environment and are also cheaper, meaning they can ease the burden on the school budget, makes them a win-win in our minds – and those of a growing number of local authorities!’
ProVeg UK is still accepting more schools and local authorities onto their School Plates programme. They receive new enquiries every week, and the number of adapted menus is steadily increasing.
One school taking part is Washingborough Academy in Lincolnshire. Headteacher Jason O’Rourke said: ‘I think School Plates is fantastic, really commendable. It is superb that we are highlighting the benefit of vegetables and giving children greater exposure to that. I would implore all schools, if they can, to get engaged with ProVeg UK and School Plates.’
Amy Odene, School Plates manager for ProVeg UK, said: ‘We are thrilled with the level of interest and engagement so far, and it just goes to show that there is real appetite for improving the meal provision within schools. When it comes to improving children’s health, helping the planet and saving money all at the same time, there is no better time than now.’
Find out more at www.proveg.com/uk/school-plates.