Top marks for school meals 

Winning team
Winning school meals' team

The school meals service in Bolton has been voted one of the best in the country.

Bolton Council’s school meal catering service won the category of Most Improved Performance in Education Catering at the Association for Public Sector Excellence (APSE) awards this month.

The team beat off competition from East Dunbartonshire; Kirklees; Liverpool; Manchester; North Lincolnshire; South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire councils to scoop the award.

The service was judged on more than 30 measures including keeping meal expenditure to a minimum and free meal-take up.

The team was also praised for sourcing food locally. Around 80 per cent of ingredients for school dinners come from suppliers based in the area, compared with the national figure of 27 per cent.

Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services, Councillor Akhtar Zaman, said: “We’re so pleased to win this award and be recognised again at a national level for our work.

“It’s well deserved and a real testament to our catering and school staff and officers from the department.”

The award is another for the authority’s school meals team, who saw off UK-wide competition in July to be crowned the Catering Business of the Year 2010, in the Awards for Excellence run by the Local Authority Caterers' Association.

The council also announced in December that it was extending a £1 offer for meals for primary school children until Easter, to continue to encourage children to eat healthily and help families struggling in the recession.

In primary schools, more than two-thirds of pupils are tucking into school meals. Children in 96 primary schools in Bolton have been enjoying meals for £1 since last January, following successful pilots since 2008 across two year groups.

The award submission was supported by the following companies: Premier Clean; Food Service Options; Morris Quality Bakers and Amia Foods.

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Salma Nakhuda
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