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Education / Hot meals back on the menu at local schools

A HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP has welcomed news that schools is Shetland will return to serving cooked lunches.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said council leaders had told her that smaller schools in the islands had recently returned to cooked meals and that all schools were expected to be following suit.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant. Photo: Shetland News

In line with many schools in most other local authority areas, schools in Shetland have been serving packed lunch meals made up of a sandwich, a wrap or a pasta box, with fruit, snack and a drink since they went back following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Grant had raised concerns in parliament about the nutritional substance of school meals, while she also written to all council leaders.

On Thursday she said she appreciated the past few months must have been tough for school leaders having to comprehend and ensure compliance with government guidance in order to keep youngsters safe.

“It was troubling to hear children were being handed a sandwich and some side bits – but nothing cooked or wholly nutritious – for their lunch,” she said.

“For some children that school dinner may be their only cooked meal of the day. I’m glad to hear Shetland Islands Council is moving in this direction with the appropriate social distancing being maintained. And I’m sure many parents will also welcome this.”

She added: “The local authority said its education and social work staff have been working extremely hard to help the most vulnerable during lockdown.

“Since the beginning of the initial lockdown in March, until schools returned in August, parents in Shetland, including some of its vulnerable families, received a payment into their bank instead of free school meals.

“And in addition to this, its critical childcare and additional support needs hubs offered hot meals to all pupils who attended. Education and social work staff also identified vulnerable families with children who would benefit from the support of an educational setting and the provision of a hot meal through lockdown.”