1st October 2009

QMS steps up obesity fight in north

Quality Meat Scotland’s pioneering plan to get Scotland’s kids back in the kitchen and cooking, healthy nutritious meals has been launched in nearly 100 new schools.

Successfully piloted in Glasgow in 2007 and east central Scotland in 2008, the QMS Meat Voucher scheme is an industry initiative to help combat the obesity epidemic sweeping Scotland by helping teach secondary age children how to cook quality, nutritious meals.

It is now being launched in nearly 100 secondary and special needs schools in Aberdeen City and Shire, Moray, Highlands, Western Islands, Shetland and Orkney, as well as Inverclyde.

The scheme sees home economics departments of the schools given a voucher worth up to £100 to spend on fresh meat for use by students on home economics and hospitality courses.

It followed reports from teachers that many schools were unable to afford using fresh red meat products during cookery lessons and pupils were restricted to cheaper protein options.

Last year saw schools in east central Scotland take part in the scheme, and responses have been overwhelmingly positive. One Edinburgh teacher said: “The scheme has allowed us to increase the use of meat in the department and helped students understand how to cook meat. The local butcher we used was excellent and very efficiently met our needs.”

A Fife teacher who cooked pork and ginger stir fry with her students added: “To a financially hard pressed department this is a wonderful idea. The balance of the money was spent in the same butcher’s shop to purchase steak mince, which was used with 320 second year pupils to make Italian meatballs. This year group do not use much meat because of costs, but they enjoyed this lesson.”

Quality Meat Scotland’s work to help Scots kids choose healthy balanced diets will also extend into primary classes in Caithness next week, with a series of cooking workshops being held in Reay Primary School, Wick South Primary School and Thurso High School.

The importance of kids knowing how to cook healthily has been put into sharp relief with figures showing Scotland has the second highest levels of obesity in the world, second only to the United States. More than a quarter of adults in Scotland are classed as obese, that’s more than double that of our European neighbours Ireland, France and Germany.

QMS Health and Education Coordinator and registered dietician, Jennifer Robertson said: “The voucher can be redeemed by teachers at the local butcher’s shop and can be used to buy Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb or Specially Selected Pork. The scheme is backed up by a specially produced recipe book chock full of healthy and tasty recipe ideas.

“Each of the recipes has been nutritionally analysed and they are all quick, simple, healthy, and taste fantastic. The recipes tackle the issue of fitting great cooking and real eating into a young lifestyle at low cost.

“We hope that the Meat Voucher Scheme will help to enthuse our young people about the health and social benefits of cooking Scotland’s top quality, natural produce.”

The latest move by Quality Meat Scotland aims to ensure a healthy future for Scotland’s kids, by helping them learn how to cook for themselves and move away from processed food to pick the freshest, healthiest and tastiest produce.

The voucher will be sent to schools, and is valid for multiple purchases of Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb or Specially Selected Pork from independent retailers, including members of the Scotch Butchers Club.

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