School meals back on menu as mothballed kitchen to reopen.
A PRIMARY school kitchen "mothballed" by the council is set to reopen, following a successful community campaign.Edinburgh City Council has agreed to resume cooking meals at Kirkliston Primary School from early next year. Parents and staff had protested at its closure in May, with around 1000 people signing a petition. They were angry that school lunches would be transported from neighbouring Echline Primary School, rather than freshly prepared on-site.
It was one of six school kitchens closed in June due to falling demand and a shortfall in council budgets.
Now Kirkliston is set to reopen its kitchen in January, after parents managed to more than double the number of children taking the meals, from around 40 to nearly 90, making it worthwhile to prepare them on-site.
The council is monitoring uptake at two other schools, Hermitage Park and Prestonfield, and will consider re-opening their kitchens at a later date. It has also confirmed that six nurseries will be re-introducing hot meals later this month, after they were axed this year. Three more will follow suit once staff have been recruited.
Grace Walker, assistant cook at Kirkliston Primary and one of the leading campaigners, said she was delighted she was returning to work at the school.
She said: "I'm absolutely ecstatic. At the moment, I work at Echline in the mornings, and then drive up to Kirkliston to serve up the transported meals.
"But the kids can tell the difference. There's nothing like the smell of home cooking coming from the kitchen. It encourages them to eat healthily.
"There'll be a great deal of excitement in the community about this. We've put a lot of work into the campaign, and encouraging the children to eat at school."
Councillor Norman Work, who represents the Almond ward, said: "I'd like to congratulate the parents and community for their campaign. They've done an excellent job in increasing the numbers."
Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, the council's children and families leader, said it was evaluating the school meals service across the city to increase uptake.
She said: "If numbers increase elsewhere I am confident we will be able to reopen more school kitchens. We are committed to encouraging healthy eating in our schools and appreciate the particular importance of this in the early years of primary when eating patterns for life are established."
She said the council had written to all nursery headteachers to establish the demand for hot meals.
As a result, Princess Elizabeth, St Leonards, High School Yards, Spinney Lane, Calderglen and Balgreen Nurseries are set to re-open their kitchens next week. The Grassmarket, Stanwell and Hope Cottage will also receive hot meals within the next few months.
By HAZEL MOLLISON
Source: Edinburgh Evening News
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