As reported by BBC news, a decision to offer primary school pupils a meat-free Monday menu has been questioned by local councillors and farming unions
The menu has been introduced for infants and juniors across Anglesey, as part of a new £8m contract. One county councillor – who is also a farmer – has called for the contract to be called in by a scrutiny panel. The council said the new menu was based on insights gained from children and parents.
Independent councillor Peter Rogers said concerns had been raised about how much of the menu would be locally sourced throughout the week, as well as “the championing of a meat-free day”.
“I’ve now made a request for the [council’s] scrutiny panel to examine the sourcing of the meat and if all the conditions of the contract are being met,” Rogers told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
According to the authority, the terms of the contract with Chartwells means that at least 30% of produce has to be sourced locally, with all meat being of UK origin, or Welsh where practicable. The Farmers Union of Wales’ Alaw Jones accepted it was “imperative for children to have a varied diet”.
“Whilst we are not in favour or championing meat-free Monday, we are more concerned about the lack of detail on Welsh food produce on these school menus,” she added.
“Red meat and dairy products are essential components in our diet and there is very little red meat on the menu, where there is meat – place of origin is not indicated.
“It’s of course disappointing that the county council here on Anglesey, where farming is a predominant industry, would chose to adopt such a menu for our schools.”
Responding, the island’s education director Rhys Hughes said: “We understand concerns regarding a meat-free meal, however the menu development and recipes are based on insights gained from customers, children and their parents in Chartwells’ schools across the country.
“This responds to the call from younger people to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact of the food chain, also aligned to the provider’s ‘less but better meat’ commitments to ensure we source better quality sources of protein.”
He added: “We understand the importance of supporting the farming community, which is why meat will be on the menu four out of five days, and the meals on a Monday will still contain produce produced by the farming community.
“However if the menu choices are unpopular, they will be reviewed and they can be changed.”