Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 09.25.00HEALTHY choices are on the menu as pupils get ready to serve up a new school meals initiative.

Students at Reid Street Academy, Darlington, are working with the council’s Healthy Darlington Team to become the first school in the town to receive the Government’s Food for Life bronze award.

The Big Lottery-funded UK-wide initiative helps schools to provide healthy meals, great lunchtime experiences and food education for a positive impact on both students and the wider community.

Pupils and parents are involved in planning improvements to school menus and the overall dining experience, via the academy’s ‘Pupil Voice’ nutrition action group, helping to boost school meal take-up and make good food an easy choice for everyone.

Darlington Borough Council Healthy Darlington Team Move More officer Shaun Marshall, who has been working with Reid Street’s Pupil Voice group, said: “It is very important to instil good eating habits at a young age and make sure that children make the right food choices for them.

“Reid Street Academy already does an amazing amount of work with its students to help support positive health messages around food and exercise so we are here just to help motivate them that little bit more and take them to the next level when it comes to eating well and moving more.”

To complete their bronze award by February 2016 the academy will need to demonstrate a number of initiatives including school meals being healthy, tasty and sustainable.

Pupil Voice group will monitor the uptake of school meals, with students being engaged to improve the overall dining experience. Pupils will also take part in regular cooking activities, have the opportunity to grow and harvest food and involve parents and the wider community in activities. Dinner trays will be phased out.

Reid Street head teacher Paula Ayto said: “We are really excited about the Food for Life award.

“There are few things as important as health and well-being and we are hoping that through this process our pupils will be even more motivated to be active and engaged in exercise as well as healthy food choices.”

Pupil Voice member Niamh Sanderson, seven, of Darlington, added: “Eating healthy food gives you energy and exercise is fun, makes you grow and your body work better.

“Our school dinners are very healthy and yummy, especially fishy Friday when I like to eat salmon fingers, peas and sweetcorn.”