School food and drink - food education

Food and drink in schools

The balanced and nutritious food and drink on offer in your child’s school plays an important part in supporting their health and wellbeing by ensuring they are well hydrated, nourished and ready to make the best of the learning opportunities offered to them.

In addition, the food and drink provided helps demonstrate the relationship between the food choices your child makes and their overall health and wellbeing by reinforcing the messages being taught through food education in the classroom and beyond.

Food education in schools

Making sure that every pupil leaves school equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to make better health choices is vital if we are to ensure they live longer, healthier lives free from diet related diseases and conditions.

The food education taught through Curriculum for Excellence encompasses a wide range of topics including how to prepare food, how to choose ingredients, the influence that the media, culture and religion has on our choices - the impact those choices have on the environment, the economy and our bodies.

Further information

The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 requires all schools to provide activities and an environment which promotes the physical, social, mental and emotional health and wellbeing of all pupils. In practice this means that every school should for example:

  • promote health, not just in the classroom and dining hall but everywhere
  • meet strict nutritional standards when providing food and drink at any time of the day, including breakfast clubs and tuck-shops
  • encourage pupils to have school meals, particularly if they are entitled to them for free
  • ensure that if a child or young person is having a free school lunch they are not identified to others at any time.

The Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008 requires schools to offer pupils balanced and nutritious food and drink which will help to ensure what is being taught in class about health and wellbeing is demonstrated in the dining hall. The following quick reference guides show what you can expect to see in your school:

The Better Eating, Better Learning – A new context for school food guidance asks parents, pupils, teachers, caterers, suppliers and the wider community to work in partnership to ensure that children and young people are given the best school food provision and food education possible. It also:

  • empowers children and young people, their parents, teachers and catering staff to take steps to improve school food provision and food education to make it the best it can be - for example, a pupil suggesting offering more brown than white bread on the menu, or a parent with an idea about how to reduce the amount of disposable packaging used in school lunches
  • supports the health and wellbeing topic detailed in Curriculum for Excellence, which sets out the experiences and outcomes every pupil should have in their day to day learning - for example, pupils should have the opportunity to learn about where food comes from and how food choices are influenced by finance, culture and the media.

What if I have questions

Your child’s teacher or headteacher should be able to help you find answers to questions about the food and drink provided in your school. In addition, the catering team in your child’s school will be able to provide further detail and you may also wish to contact the catering team in your local authority with further questions or comments.

Is my child entitled to free school meals?

Find out if your child is eligible for free school meals.