Locally sourced, organic red meat will be at the heart of a new school menu to be introduced by Hampshire County Council in September.
Wiltshire-based Pure Organics will supply 450 primary schools in Hampshire with beef burgers made from organic Hampshire beef, as well as organic meatballs made from Welsh beef, and pork sausages made from organic pigmeat.
The initiative is a key plank of the council’s trail-blazing shake-up of primary school meals, which will see children offered just two meal options each day - one with meat, one vegetarian.
Amanda Frost, head of the council’s catering services division, HC3S, said: “We carried out research among headteachers and parents and found they would be happier if children did not have a choice of meals at lunch. The advantage is that you can control the nutritional content of meals.”
Frost said HC3S had been seeking foods that did not contain the 70 additives blacklisted by the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group.
“Additive-free was our main driver, but it just so happened that Pure Organics’ food was also organic,” said Frost.
The 50g Hampshire beef burgers, which are 80% meat, cost HC3S 21p each, just 1p-2p more than a standard premium beef burger, said Frost. This made them affordable on a budget of 50p per pupil per day.
But, in contrast, Frost admitted schools were forced to serve chicken and turkey flown in from Thailand. She added: “We’d love to be able to offer British poultry meat, but it needs to be affordable.”