THERE are moves to make school dinners healthier just a month after pupils from Lochgelly and Beath expressed their "dismay" about the quality on offer.

The children weren't happy about the price either and, after outlining concerns about the "pretty poor" meals to the Cowdenbeath area committee, councillors called for a review.

Back in May, Lochgelly High School pupil Emma Devine said: “The quality really varies on what is on the menu.

“When there is macaroni or curry or fish the quality is good but when it is some other meal it can be pretty poor.

“It is something which is really difficult for the pupils, many of whom are relying on that as their main meal of the day.”

There have also been fears expressed about Fife Council offering school children processed meat containing nitrites, which are used to preserve meat but can lead to an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Now the Scottish Government are getting involved, promising more fruit and vegetables and less processed red meat and sugar on the menu.

New regulations are set to come in this Autumn and Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Every school lunch will now contain more fruit and vegetables, and where food is served elsewhere in school full portions of fruit and vegetables must be on offer.

“We have set maximum limits for consumption of red processed meat which is linked to an increased risk of cancer. This will also reduce exposure to harmful nitrites.

“And we know that one small carton of fruit juice or smoothie contains more than the entire recommended sugar intake for a primary pupil’s lunch, so these drinks will no longer be served in schools.

“These changes will improve our school food, help tackle childhood obesity and give our children the best start in life.”

School food regulations will be changed to ensure there is: a minimum of two full portions of vegetables and a full portion of fruit are offered as part of a school lunch; a maximum amount of red and processed red meat provision – such as bacon, ham and pepperoni – in school lunches to help reduce exposure to nitrites; removal of fruit juice and smoothies from primary and secondary schools to help reduce sugar intake.

At the meeting in May, a motion was passed which said: “Cowdenbeath Area Committee welcomes the deputation from the school pupils on their dismay regarding the quality and price of school meals in local schools.

“Committee therefore agrees to request relevant officers from education and children’s services and facility management services to investigate these issues as a matter of importance.

"This investigation is to include young people from the outset with a specific focus on the pricing and quality of food. Officers will prepare and submit a report for the October meeting of the area committee."

Councillor Mary Lockhart said: “Some children, unfortunately, have to rely on their school dinner to be a main meal of the day so it is important that the quality is good and the pricing is right.

“As a local authority we have to up our game on the school dinner issue.”

This week, Tariq Ditta, senior manager with facilities management, told the Times: "Fife Council welcomes the update of the school lunch food regulations and we will be considering how best to implement them by Autumn 2020.

"In Fife, we're fully committed to ensuring the wellbeing and health of our children and young people by complying with the Scottish Government’s school food regulations. "

"We are working on the report – looking at quality and customer satisfaction – which will presented in October to the Cowdenbeath area committee."