Healthy eating and cooking scheme scoops prestigious national award

Chef Ian Brown in a cookery masterclass with southside kids.
Chef Ian Brown in a cookery masterclass with southside kids.

An innovative scheme provided as part of East Renfrewshire’s holiday activity programme has scooped a prestigious national award.

The initiative is run by the council’s catering staff in partnership with Active Schools to ensure children have access to nutritious meals during the school holidays.

As part of new approach this year, the team introduced cookery masterclasses which allowed the children to then prepare lunch for the 100 pupils and staff attending the holiday programme on a daily basis.

This new ground-breaking concept of young pupils cooking large quantities of food in the state-of-art training kitchen started this spring.

Local chef Ian Brown, former head chef at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow’s west end and now running his own eatery in Giffnock, launched the programme by demonstrating a range of techniques and skills.

The council’s catering staff then carried out the masterclasses every day to support the children in delivering lunch for their peers.

It is this novel method to teaching children about the benefits of healthy eating which landed the programme the 2016 ASSIST Facilities Management Council Innovation Award.

The award was presented to the team at the ASSIST annual conference in Glasgow, when pupils from Busby Primary also had the chance to present their Better Eating, Better Learning food initiatives to the audience.

Councillor Elaine Green, Education Convener, said: “It’s fantastic to see this innovative project getting this recognition on the national stage. Not only are children enjoying a healthy life through their Active Schools classes, but the introduction of the masterclasses has helped to teach important life skills which will stand them all in good stead for the future. I’m sure this initiative will continue to go from strength to strength and I look forward to seeing how it develops in the coming years.”

The masterclass sessions were extremely well received by parents and pupils, so will now become a regular part of all future holiday programmes.

It is also anticipated that the sessions will be developed to include outside agencies offering visits to local suppliers, Royal Highland Education Trust and Let’s Get Cooking with Children’s Food Trust.

Nicky Joiner, catering co-ordinator for East Renfrewshire Council, said: “We are extremely proud of how the holiday programme has developed over the years in partnership with East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure. By providing children the opportunity to cook nutritious, healthy meals they are learning new skills whilst enjoying themselves too. It has also increased the confidence of our young people to try out their new recipes at home, so has proved extremely successful.”