Pupils have urged the council to rethink plans to axe the “best puddings in the world” from their school dinner menu.
Aberdeenshire Council has scrapped custard and ice cream from its primary school lunch menus, prompting a backlash from parents and pupils.
The authority claims new government legislation aimed at curbing children’s sugar intake over the school day has forced the move by driving up food costs.
But the decision has been likened to the “Thatcher era” when the former prime minister stopped free milk for the over sevens in the 1970s.
And with many other authorities still serving custard or ice cream under the new rules, parents fear the council is using the legislation to inflict further cutbacks.
Pupils launch petition to bring back favourites
The cash-strapped council, which has to save more than £20million this year, confirmed it has already stopped serving grapes because “halving and quartering them became too labour intensive and there are cheaper alternatives”.
Furious youngsters from Rhynie Primary, near Huntly, have now taken matters into their own hands by launching a petition.
William Dibb, 11, and Angus Beverly, 10, have gathered signatures from every pupil and member of staff at both Rhynie and Gartly schools – including their cook, Heather Moir.
The puddings that we love, cooked by Mrs Moir, are the best in the world and we don’t want to lose them.”
A letter to Aberdeenshire Council from pupils.
Their class has written a letter to the council about the removal of the puddings from the dinner menu, urging bosses to reconsider – arguing they get a balanced lunch.
It states: “The puddings that we love, cooked by Mrs Moir, are the best in the world and we don’t want to lose them. They are part of a balanced diet for us and we know that Mrs Moir reduces the sugar content as much as possible.
“We ask kindly that you revert back to having puddings as part of our choice for dinner.”
The council has also removed the option of cheese and biscuits from its menus, despite being one of the highest-priced in Scotland at £2.50 a day.
Instead, soup will now be offered each day and desserts will be predominantly fruit.
There will be variations including jelly, natural yoghurt or a muffin – which pupils claim is “only a mouthful” served three days a week, with fruit.
It is understood fruit juice and smoothies will also no longer be available at Uryside Primary in Inverurie.
Parents stress importance of ‘everything in moderation’
As of April 8, the Scottish Government recommends no more than 15g of sugar per portion is served at school dinner times no more than three days a week.
It’s like the Thatcher era when she banned milk. There is no way this is purely about nutrition.”
An angry dad who believes meals are no longer value for money.
Mother-of-two Louise Grant thinks Aberdeenshire Council has gone too far eliminating custard and ice cream.
The 28-year-old said: “There’s nothing wrong with everything in moderation. The kids get a lovely balanced diet at school, and at home too, so why shouldn’t they get a small slice of cake and custard.
“Primary school kids are always so active, it can’t be about childhood obesity. They don’t even serve grapes anymore because they are too expensive.”
Another dad, who has two children in primary school, said: “Without the option of a proper pudding, school dinners are no longer value for money. It’s like the Thatcher era when she banned milk. There is no way this is purely about nutrition.”
Georgina Beeson, 29, whose daughter, Emily, is in primary three, said: “Personally, I think the council has scrimped as much as they can already. Not every child appreciates fruit as a pudding and I know for a fact that sometimes a pudding can really lift a child’s spirits, especially if it’s sponge and custard or jelly and ice cream, as they’re just classics.
“Fruit is maybe an idea as a choice if children want it, but not instead of.”
Menus will offer ‘nutritious and delicious’ meals
A council spokesman confirmed its primary school menus had been “refreshed to be in line with nutritional requirements introduced by the Scottish Government” and that “desserts such as ice cream and custard have been removed”.
But he insisted alternatives such as brownies, muffins and gingerbread would be offered.
He added: “However, our focus is currently on healthy eating as well as using the very best produce available in Aberdeenshire and Scotland to provide pupils with nutritious and delicious meals at affordable prices.
“The changes introduced by the Scottish Government will lead to a rise in our food costs in real terms. We are hopeful the increases will be met by reductions in our costs meaning the public will not need to pay more for school meals.”
The new guidelines also dictate the amount of fruit and vegetables, red meat and oily fish that should be consumed during school time.
It comes just a month after MSPs agreed a Budget Bill that includes the phased introduction of free school meals for all primary school children by next August.