We recently wrote to the Scottish government asking what the official position was in respect of provision for vegan school meals in Scottish Schools. Specifically, we asked if parents had any rights to insist that their children were provided with Vegan School Meals ?
This is the reply that we have received:
The Scottish Government expects all local authorities to meet the statutory duties set out in the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008 which are designed to ensure pupils are offered a balanced and nutritious diet in line with the Eatwell Guide.
How local authorities achieve this is up to them as we recognise they are best placed to set policies balancing the local needs, circumstances and priorities of their area, this would include policies in relation to alternative diets such as vegan. If a parent requests a vegan diet for their child we expect the local authority to make reasonable efforts to accommodate this request.
If they have not done so already I would urge you to encourage the parents who have contacted you to speak with their respective school catering teams to discuss how their request could be accommodated, they may find it useful to discuss recipe ideas with them (which may prove to be suitable for the general school menu too).
Parents may also wish to speak with their parent council to see if this issue has been raised by other parents who can share their experiences and approaches.
So the policy from the Scottish Government is that schools should make a reasonable provision to accommodate alternative diets including vegan. The local authority is expected to make reasonable provision to accommodate this. Now that we understand the Scottish Government’s position on this, and the expectations that the Government has on the local authorities we would ask parents who are experiencing difficulties to follow the advice above i.e. in the first instances speak with their schools catering team to discuss how your requirements can be accommodated. In our view, a reasonable provision does not include ‘baked potato and beans’ every day – but should include some demonstrable effort to follow the Eatwell Guide as required by the Scottish Goverment. A ‘balanced and nutritious’ diet includes variety for it to be healthy – for every child.
The Scottish Government will be launching a formal consultation on school meals next year in relation to school meals. We are interested to hear your ongoing feedback once you have taken the time to speak with your school catering teams about your requirements and followed up with your ‘parent council’. Please remember that while we should remind our schools and local authorities of their obligations, we can do this in a respectful manner, it is not everyone (even qualified catering staff who understand how to cook and balance nutritious vegan food). Please feel free to take your suggestions (recipes) to your catering teams if they need help. We understand that we should expect qualified catering staff to have an understanding of a variety of dietary requirements but where this is not the case, lets do our best to help them understand.