Catering Leeds, which provides school dinners to 182 primary schools across the city, is set to trial “environmentally friendly” school dinners in an attempt to help reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
A report, which went before Leeds City councillors this week suggested that this could mean pupils enjoy “even healthier meals with extra vegetable content” and proposes one non-meat day and one vegetarian day each week.
The plans would also see vegan dishes introduced to school lunch menus, with more vegetables included in main dishes and ‘even desserts’.
It’s all part of a scheme the council hopes will help halve carbon emissions in the city by 2020, which also includes doubling the authority’s fleet of electric vehicles and switching to renewable energy.
The report stated: “Leeds pupils are taste-testing new environmentally friendly school dinner menus in a project led by Catering Leeds. The aim is to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, and ensure that pupils enjoy even healthier meals with extra vegetable content. This will be offered to all 182 primary schools provided catering by Catering Leeds Children.
“The proposed menu includes one non meat day and one vegetarian day each week plus vegan dishes, with more vegetables included in main dishes and even desserts.”
The report added that extra raw vegetables should be available for children who want them, claiming: “Pupils have a rainbow of salad, vegetables and raw veg sticks to choose from, and often prefer raw vegetables to cooked. Serving raw vegetables helps to reduce energy consumption, while helping children to enjoy their five-a-day.”
It follows research done by Leeds City Council, which found that 84 out of 88 young children surveyed would “not object” to having one meat free day per week to reduce their carbon footprint.
The menus, said to be “already receiving a thumbs up” from pupils during trials are being finalised in consultation with schools. The new meals have been developed by a forum including council officers, nutritionists food awareness organisation Pro-Veg.
Each of the 182 schools will be offered the updated menu.