Aberdeen City Council is looking to improve the uptake of free school meals at two secondaries by using food vans.
A local authority report has revealed that Northfield and St Machar academies have the most pupils registered for free meals.
However, the document also said both schools have the highest number of children entitled to but not taking a meal.
Now Aberdeen City Council are hoping to copy that idea with ‘external pods’ expected to be rolled out before the end of the school year.
Just 92 Northfield Academy pupils out of 200 registered for school meals chose to take one in 2020.
The report said that at St Machar Academy only 77 of the 231 youngsters registered took up the offer.
It also features data from Aberdeen’s other secondary schools.
At Aberdeen Grammar School just 37 pupils out of 85 registered choose to take a school meal.
At Lochside Academy 66 children out of 167 opted for school lunch.
It said: “This data identifies St Machar Academy and Northfield Academy as having the highest numbers of children registered for free school meals and the highest percentages of children registered for free school meals compared with total school roll.
“These schools also had the highest number of children in school on census day entitled to but not taking a free school meal.”
School food van success highlighted
Council bosses have set up a working group to help boost the numbers of pupils eating free school meals.
Some of the ideas include improvements to the local authority and school websites, and making the registration process for free school meals easier for parents.
Another potential solution is the introduction of food vans to serve school meals from on a daily basis.
The city council said there is already an “external pod serving food” at Oldmachar Academy. Councillors are looking to extend the “already successful” idea after handing out £75,000 in funding.
Northfield and St Machar identified as ‘priorities’
The report said that one of the issues with free school meals was that pupils wanted fresh air away from the school building and the use of food vans helped.
The document said: “A recognised barrier to take up is the desire of pupils to leave the building to get exercise and fresh air away from the school building.
“A solution proven to be effective in other areas is an external pod serving food.
“This approach is already successful at Oldmachar Academy and the Operational Delivery Committee in September 2021 awarded £75,000 to extend this approach.
Based on the evidence set out above Northfield and St Machar Academies are our priorities.”
Aberdeen City Council
“This introduction of a further pod is anticipated to increase overall uptake of school meals. It may also be utilised outside school times as relevant.
“We anticipate that a pod will be introduced by the end of the 2021/22 school year and we will closely evaluate its impact to determine any future proposals to further extend this approach for other schools.”
The report will be discussed by members of Aberdeen City Council’s Education Operational Delivery Committee on Thursday.
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