PUPILS have been banned from eating vegetables they grow in the school garden at lunch times on health and safety grounds.
Youngsters at Selkirk High in the Scottish Borders grow potatoes, leeks and carrots but cannot have them for lunch, a former local councillor has complained.
Celebrity chef Nick Nairn, who is campaigning to improve school meals, described the decision as “barking mad”.
Despite not allowing kids to eat their own vegetables for lunch, youngsters at Selkirk High can still buy questionable meals such as a slice of pizza for £1.15 and bacon rolls for £1.20.
Former councillor Kenneth Gunn says officials said he was told originally told the vegetables could not be used in case it affected the existing contract with caterers.
He said he was later advised it was on health and safety grounds.
“They said that if anything was to go wrong with the veg in the kitchen, then the school would be liable. It’s just nonsense.
“Here we could be making fresh soups using the potatoes and leeks but instead the veg is being dumped.
“They’re saying the pupils are getting to take it home but the chances of it actually reaching the table are very low.”
Mr Gunn said he had also been told that he had been told much of the produce is being thrown away.
Nairn said: “It’s barking mad if the kids are growing veg which they are not then allowed to eat.”
He added: “We have to look at what is going on in school dining rooms, because we’re missing a major opportunity.
“We need to improve the value we place on school meals. Food education and school meals have to be elevated in our society.
“When we have so many people relying on food banks today, it’s absolutely criminal that some of it is being thrown away.
“It’s also demeaning for the children who put all the effort into growing the goods and to then see it thrown away and not be used is almost like saying it’s not good enough.
“It’s completely mad.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said the “modest” amount of veg grown in the school garden was used in home economics classes or given to children to take home.
Mr Gunn said it was “all very well” using veg in home economics but added; “The chances of it reaching the table are very low.”
Nairn will shortly launch a campaign to try to improve nutritional standards of meals in Scottish schools.
School meals recently came under the spotlight after the government announced plans to provide free dinners for primary 1-3 pupils.
The £114m package for young people will be rolled out over two years, ensuring every single child eligible is fed, saving families an average of at least £330 a year.