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Conwy schools celebrate local produce and introduce state-of-the-art kitchen kit in free school meals boost

Conwy Council has ditched the deep-fat fryers and installed state of the art kitchen equipment to help with capacity and efficiency as part of the Welsh Government’s Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) programme.

A UPFSM grant has been used to implement technological advancements in the kitchens including state-of-the-art programmable ovens and solar panels in three primary schools.

The Conwy Education Catering Team has also been prioritising serving up locally sourced ingredients to ensure learners are eating quality and nutritious meals.

Dafydd Aled Williams, senior information technology analyst at Conwy Council, said: 

I am really proud of the achievements made by Conwy Education Catering with the UPFSM grant. We have upgraded kitchens to increase cooking capacity. We have removed all the deep-fat fryers, installed programmable combination ovens, and replaced gas cooking equipment with electric so that we can take advantage of renewable energy.

Improvements to kitchen equipment have made a notable difference to schools in Conwy. Sarah Mugglestone, Cook in Charge at Ysgol Ffordd Dyffryn in Llandudno, explained how her school undertook a full kitchen refurbishment during the 2023 summer school holidays, thanks to funding made available from the Welsh Government as part of the programme: 

The refurbishment has made a very positive impact on how this busy kitchen functions, feeding more than 145 children per day in a kitchen with new equipment, enables meals to be cooked much quicker and healthier, due to the introduction of air frying and not deep fat frying, which in turn has improved efficiency in the kitchen.

Initially, the kitchen at Ysgol Ffordd Dyffryn didn't see much change in the numbers of learners having school dinners. Gradually, however, as children were encouraged to try a nutritious hot meal, this changed and resulted in the majority of the school being catered for. Ms Mugglestone added:

This has proved to be a very positive outcome for both the school and kitchen with the majority of children trying and enjoying new foods, even if some need a little encouragement every now and again to try them.

Speaking about the wider change in the local authority, Dafydd Aled Williams explained that the UPFSM funding has meant they can feature more locally sourced food on primary school menus in Conwy, which has been nutritionally analysed and verified by WLGA Food in Schools as compliant with the Healthy Eating in School Regulations Wales with a gold award.

In September 2022, Wales began the Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) programme. Universal Primary Free School Meals will be rolled out to all primary school children and more than 6,000 nursery aged pupils across all local authorities in Wales by September this year.

Across Wales, 19 local authorities – including Conwy Council – have completed their rollout, providing free school meals to all pupils from reception to year 6. The remaining local authorities will complete rollout by September 2024.

For more information about Universal Primary Free School Meals, and to check your eligibility for help with school essentials, head to www.gov.wales/get-help-school-costs.

 

Channel website: http://gov.wales

Original article link: https://www.gov.wales/conwy-schools-celebrate-local-produce-and-introduce-state-art-kitchen-kit-free-school-meals-boost

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