Why pupils' school dinners are recipe for healthy eating
IF turkeys were starting to get fidgety about Christmas, a recommendation by Swansea councillors will only add to their nerves.
Schoolchildren throughout the county are set to gobble the lean birds more regularly after councillors extolled their low-fat virtues on a healthy eating fact-finding mission.
It was one of several recommendations made by the scrutiny group which has been accepted by cabinet member for education, Will Evans.
The cross-party group digested food and nutrition data from council catering manager Bet Jenkins and visited schools in Sketty and Morriston, among others.
They saw much to applaud on their travels: a "plate to patch" scheme whereby parents help grow produce, a system allowing children to choose their own tortilla wrap filling, and asking them what they want at the start of the day to help cut wastage.
Concerns included a lack of butchers providing halal meat for Muslim youngsters, a shortage of free breakfasts and a lack of nutritional balance in packed lunches brought to school by pupils.
Councillors also learned more about a biometric system for those entitled to free secondary school meals, which records pupils' thumbprints to tot up their remaining food allowance.
They also felt it was good practice for teachers to sit with pupils and eat canteen food, and urged more low-fat dessert options. And they advocated a traffic light system indicating healthy and less options, in tandem physical exercise promotion.
In his response to the group's recommendations, Mr Evans said school menus in Swansea were already nutritionally balanced and that the pre-ordering system worked well in secondary schools.
He said that red meat was compulsory on the menu at least twice per week, and that schoolchildren tended to prefer chicken to turkey.
Mr Evans added: "In the current climate more parents are choosing to send their children with packed meals over which we have little control."