Why Glasgow is another council ahead of its time
Glasgow, like Hull, has come up with its own unique solution to the problem of poor school meals. It has introduced a healthy menu and, in its secondary schools, given pupils an incentive to adopt it with a loyalty scheme where the top rewards are iPods and Xboxes (Children Now, 1-7 June).
"It's been phenomenally successful," says Fergus Chambers, director of care services at Glasgow City Council, which is responsible for school meals.
Each meal has a number of points. The more nutritious the meal, the more points awarded. The maximum score is 30. An iPod requires 2,000 points, whereas an Xbox is 3,000.
At St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, two boys have just received the top two "prizes". Thirteen-year-old Francis Carroll, who got an Xbox, says: "The food is really good. It tastes nice and it's healthy, which is great." Akil Memishi, 14, now the owner of an iPod, agrees, adding: "What I like is that we all eat it".
In fact, to remove any free-school-meals stigma, Glasgow pioneered a cashless system, using swipecards.
The cost of the incentive scheme, which also includes book and cinema tokens, is £40,000 a year. To Chambers it is money well spent. "The uptake of school meals has risen from 30 per cent to almost 70 per cent," he reveals.