The organisation behind more than 60,000 school meals in Birmingham has celebrated its 100th visit from local children as it officially launched an ambitious plan to cut the amount of sugar stocked by its schools.

Cityserve welcomed children from The Abbey Catholic Primary School in Erdington to its headquarters in the city as it launched a year-long drive to reduce the amount of sugar stocked in its schools by 30% per child.

Part of Birmingham City Council, the multi award-winning organisation is putting a range of measures in place including new recipes, product substitutions and limiting some condiments and other products.

Children from The Abbey saw first-hand some of the ways Cityserve is working to reduce sugar used in its schools on their visit to its state-of-the-art CityKitchen development kitchen on Thursday (September 27th).

During a hands-on workshop with its team of development chefs, the pupils spent the morning learning about healthy eating, how much sugar is in their food and the importance of exercise as well as making their own healthy pizzas for lunch.

Cityserve’s sugar reduction plans include:-

  • Limiting the use of sugars and honey within CityKitchen recipes and using reduced sugar products such as baked beans and desserts
  • Using no-added sugar products instead of existing products
  • Limiting the use of condiments such as tomato ketchup and salad cream
  • Limiting fruit juices and flavoured milk
  • Using fruit and vegetables as a direct replacement for some products
  • Using low sugar fruit yoghurts instead of full fat equivalents
  • Developing new recipes that use less sugar in line with Cityserve’s health agenda

Development chef Lisa O’Sullivan said: “As part of the session we took the children through things like how much sugar is in their breakfast cereals or drinks and how that compares to what the recommended amount is for a child per day. It’s only when you start counting out the teaspoons of sugar that they realise that a sugary cereal for breakfast plus a bottle of fizzy drink can be up to five times their recommended daily allowance.

“We’ve come up with all sorts of ways that we can lower the amount of sugar in the food we’re providing for our children, which in turn will help schools reduce the amount they stock. Whether it’s making cakes using banana or beetroot to provide natural sweetness or using reduced-sugar products, these little changes will make big differences over the year.

“The next stage of this is to get parents involved and get everybody to understand how much sugar we consume and how we can cut that down across all our daily lives.”

Cityserve, which provides more than 60,000 school meals every single day at schools across Birmingham, already provides children with low-sugar meals in line with the 2013 School Food Plan, which set out actions to transform what children eat in schools and how they learn about food.

But following a review of school stock reports, head of service Dale Wild said they found that while some schools were managing their larders well with less than half a dozen kilos of sugar ordered per year, others exceeded it, prompting them to aim to reduce sugar usage in every school.

He said: “It’s wonderful that the launch of this campaign coincided with our 100th engagement with schools, showing how important it is that we are more than just a school meals provider, but that we actively engage with our schools and schoolchildren to help the next generation understand the importance of a balanced diet and healthy eating.

“What started as an idea sparked when I saw the amount of sugar ordered by some schools has grown into an ambitious campaign that really does show that we’re all about the kids. We all know what the long-term effects of too much sugar can be and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can at Cityserve to make sure we’re not contributing to that. I have every confidence that we’ll achieve our aim and in a year’s time we’ll be announcing that we did indeed cut the amount of extra sugar stocked across our schools by a third.”

City Serve 100th school visit and Kitchen recognition award


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