A new initiative has been launched to encourage pupils to eat nutritious Scottish salmon in their school meals.
A 12-week pilot is underway in six of the seven secondary schools across the Stirling Council area, supported by the local authority and welcomed by the Scottish Government.
Locally-sourced nutritious salmon meals are available in canteens once-a-week, along with information on the major health benefits of eating oily fish and more than 20 simple family-friendly recipes being taught in home economics classes.
The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) will provide an independent scientific evaluation of the project, measuring both take-up of the salmon and receptiveness to the information.
The pilot could pave the way for a national roll-out, in line with the Scottish Government’s ‘Good Food Nation’ policy which recognises Scottish salmon as high quality and healthy.
Salmon is packed with protein, which is good for developing bones and muscle, and Omega-3, a fatty acid known to be highly beneficial to the brain.
Salmon is being offered to the majority of the 6,300 secondary pupils in and around Stirling, served alongside existing options such as macaroni cheese, chicken curry and noodle stir fry.
One secondary school in the Stirling area will not offer salmon, functioning as a control sample for the scheme.
The project is being organised and run by Salmon Scotland, in partnership with Stirling Council.
The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that we should eat two weekly servings of fish – and one of these should be oily fish, like Scottish farm-raised salmon.
A recent study by the Nutritional Analytical Service found that Scottish salmon has 4.5 times the daily recommendation for special omega-3 fats found in marine foods, and more than half our daily protein needs.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:
“I would like to congratulate Salmon Scotland on this innovative project.
“Scottish farmed salmon is a tasty, nutritious and low-carbon food that is enjoyed at home and abroad.
“I am delighted that this iconic seafood is being introduced to a new generation and look forward to seeing the results of this initiative.”
Stirling Council head of education Bryony Monaghan said:
“We’re pleased to be involved in this pilot project led by Salmon Scotland in an effort to provide diverse and nutritious meal options for our school pupils.
“A well-balanced meal is known to promote educational development and incorporating locally sourced salmon in our school meals will make a great addition to the menu.”
Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, said:
“We are hugely grateful to Stirling Council, the Scottish Government, academic partners and SAMS for partnering with us for this project.
“Our aim is to introduce more healthy nutritious food in school menus.
“We look forward to the results of this pilot and hope a national roll-out will follow so that more young people can make informed choices about healthy food to go with healthier lifestyles.”
Dr Lucy Williamson, a registered nutritionist, said:
“Eating just one serving of oily fish a week, such as a fillet of farm-raised Scottish salmon, gives you more than two thirds of your weekly omega-3 recommendation in a single meal.
“And the vitamin D in Scottish salmon is essential for immune function and supports bones, muscles and teeth – all vital for growing youngsters.
“We know there is an obesity crisis in Scotland, and presenting tasty and nutritious options to young people can help improve the health of the next generation.”