The Department for Education no longer records the amount of food wasted in schools, a Tynwald question has revealed.
Minister Julie Edge was asked by Sarah Maltby MHK whether the amount of food waste in primary schools is recorded, if the data is considered in meal planning and how often consumer feedback is sought.
Ms Edge explained that, while historically food waste was weighed and recorded, the introduction of the Parent Pay system in 2020, where children can choose from two meal options each day, saw an end to this practice. Under the system, the children pick their meal, with the info being set to catering staff.
The Minister added: ‘The catering staff can then prepare the correct amount required and over production can be avoided where possible. Whilst the amount of food waste is no longer recorded, it is monitored by schools and this acts as a guide as to what the popular meals are. The dining hall staff encourage the children to try a variety of food choices.
‘Based on the feedback from the catering staff, which can vary from school to school, the primary school meals service adapt and can change dishes on the menu at the start of each school year as well as prior to the implementation of a new menu. They also offer taster days at various schools and get feedback from the children and staff.’
Ms Edge said that menu changes, when they do occur, involve ‘a lot of planning with local suppliers’ to find food that is in line with guidance, with catering staff then giving feedback as to what they would like to see on the menu and what is popular at their school. She added: ‘This feedback is obtained on an annual basis but can be done monthly if new or substituted items are used.’