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The Real Meal Deal
Wednesday 2nd December, 2009

The Real Meal Deal
Juniors at Leigh Sacred Heart RC get some (toy) food for thought from the council's Fit4Fun Team

It’s been National School Meals week and schools around the borough were treated to extra helpings of healthy advice with a side order of exercise tips.

The council’s school meals service, MetroFresh, already in every primary school serving healthy dinners to children, laid on special education sessions and fun cookery classes for their young diners.

MetroFresh’s newly appointed executive chef, Mark Holmes, visited a number of schools to speak to pupils about ensuring they get their five portions of fruit and veg each day. He introduced children to new and exciting fruits such as mangoes and paw paws, and cooked a vegetable stir fry with their help.

Pupils at the new Leigh Sacred Heart RC Primary welcomed the council’s Fit 4 Fun team. Team leaders Dave and Chris took the kids through their paces with a range of physical activities and some challenging games involving putting toy versions of a variety of foods into the different food groups.

Alicia, 8, said: “I like fruit and just a bit of chocolate, but I do run around a lot in the playground as well.” Her friend Louis, also 8, said he’d be eating his fruit and veg now for certain.

The team also offer support to children and their families to overcome the stigma of obesity. “People get extra help for their maths,” says Dave Christine. “But equally important is to get help with dietary concerns.” His group are funded jointly by the PCT and the council, and work closely with MetroFresh to promote healthy lifestyles.

The council’s champion for young people, Cllr Susan Loudon, knows all about the important work of MetroFresh’s catering staff. “Last year, I spent time going ‘back to the floor’ as a dinner lady in a local school,” says Cllr Loudon. “And the children really do make careful choices about what they eat. We need to continue to work with them and ensure they get the quality of food they deserve and the right balance of vitamins and nutrition.”

MetroFresh chiefs have turned the old idea of chips and custard-type meals completely around, with expert caterers such as chef Mark, who has cooked for the Queen, ensuring carefully balanced school meals. Careful monitoring ensures the right combination of food types, minerals and vitamins are available for children. MetroFresh’s work in schools has brought a series of awards to Wigan, including this summer’s Local Authority Catering Association award.

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