By Kirstie Topp – Local Democracy Reporter
Sweet treats including puddings, ice cream and custard were removed from school lunches earlier this year following the introduction of new healthy eating guidance by the Scottish Government.
Former Rhynie School pupil William Dibb started the petition “Save the Puddings in Aberdeenshire Schools” in a bid to bring the sweet treats back to menus across the region and encourage Aberdeenshire Council to take a more balanced view of a healthy lifestyle.
The petition was considered by the local authority’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, August 26.
Addressing the committee William told members that his class was “very disappointed” to learn that the school menus would be changed due to the new regulations.
It was really tough for us children to hear this news when we had just returned to school after the lockdowns and with a whole new list of covid rules to follow.
After losing touch with our friends, our schools and our freedoms we were now to lose our puddings too.
William launched his petition with his friend Angus Beverley and the pair managed to gather over 800 signatures from school pupils and staff across the north east.
The regulations are all the same over Scotland and other councils have been able to keep some sweet treats in their menus.
The Aberdeenshire menu has seen all of our favourite desserts removed and replaced with a daily diet of fruit and fruit salad with a small dry muffin or biscuit alongside. I’ve seen that many children in my primary school did not enjoy eating their fruit salad and that there was a lot of wastage, there has to be a better way.
William also noted that the “attack on desserts” comes despite the fact that some food items still on the menu are “not exactly healthy” such as hot dogs and burgers.
Following William’s presentation Director of Education and Children’s Services Laurence Findlay informed members that a review of school catering will go to the committee in October and the petition will be included as part of it.
He also said that work has been going on behind the scenes with nutritionists, dieticians and chefs on the back of the petition.
Catering officer Ian Paterson told the committee that changes were made to the school menu to reduce the sugar consumption of pupils.
The average consumption for pupils at the moment should be 24g of sugar but the actual consumption is 65g and that’s why the changes had to be made.
Mr Paterson then told the committee that custard would be returning to menus from October however specific menus will continue to be provided to those with dietary requirements.
Councillor Rosemary Bruce thanked officers and catering staff for their work to ensure school menus meet nutritional standards and guidelines and added
We need to understand that across Scotland there is a problem with childhood obesity and as an education authority we must play our part in helping our young people with healthy food choices.