Smart­phones a bar­rier to healthy eat­ing

● Pupils pick food they can eat in one hand with their mo­bile in the other

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By IAN MARLAND

Pupils are increasing­ly choos­ing what to eat based on whether it fits in with “de­vice time”, culi­nary ex­perts have warned.

Scot­land’ s can teen“master chefs” have con­ceded com­ing up with menus that work for times­tarved chil­dren that are still nu­tri­tional is one of their big­gest chal­lenges.

The smart­phone fac­tor has been cited as a ma­jor pres­sure on school cooks.

Cater­ing man­ager Eleanor Ged­des said of pupils: “They don’t have time for eat­ing.”

If it wasn’ t hot enough, it seems the ubiq­ui­tous mo­bile phone is ad­ding to the heat in the school kitchen.

Pupils are mak­ing choices about what they ea­ton the ba­sis of whether it fits in with “de­vice time”.

The chal­lenge for schools is com­ing up with menus that work for time-starved childr en–while tic king all the nu­tri­tional boxes.

The smart­phone fac­tor was one of the emerg­ing pres­sures re­ported by school cooks this week.

Eight of Scot­land’ s can­teen “master chefs” were tak­ing part in a na­tional school cook com­pe­ti­tion at Cook School Scot­land in Kil­marnock.

The food on show is tes­ta­ment to the lengths kitchens are going to en­tice their “cus­tomers”.

Fi­nal­ist Eleanor Ged­des, a cater­ing man­ager at East Ayr­shire Coun­cil, said: “For a lot of academy chil­dren now it’s about grab and go for them. Easi­ness and quick­ness is what’s im­por­tant – so that they can eat it on the go.

“They want to be out doing things with their friends on their phones. They don’t have time for eat­ing. If it’ s going to take too long stand­ing in a queue or wait­ing for some­thing that is going to take a while, that’ s not what they want .” One of the judges is S cot­land’ s na­tional chef Gary Ma clean, a Master chef win­ner in 2016, who was ap­pointed by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to pro­mote lo­cally-sourc ed Scot­tish food. He said: “I think it is prob­a­bly one of the tough­est cook­ing en­vi­ron­ments you can be in.

“You’ ve got the leg­isla­tive stuff with the guidelines, the bud­gets are re­ally tight, the win­dow to feed them is tiny and then you have got the pres­sures of fast food.

“All these com­bined make it a re­ally, re­ally tough place to work.

“They talk about Miche­lin star kitchens being hard – try a school kitchen.”

He cau­tioned against too many rules lim­it­ing the pro­vi­sion of such things as red meat, fish and sugar.

“As much as the guidelines are im­por­tant, we have to re­mem­ber that if the kids don’t eat it what they are getting out­side is a hun­dred times worse.”

Keith Breasley, chair­man of As­sist FM, which sup­ports lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to pro­vide cater­ing and other ser­vices, said: “We have dif­fi­cul­ties in being en­cour­aged not to use dis­pos­able or sin­gle-use plas­tic, which means our ser­vice style needs to change.

“And that can mean we are not as High Street as our com­peti­tors, because they are still giv­ing kids the easy-eat pack­ages that they want.

“Kids need some­thing in one hand and a phone in the other. It is a very hard bal­ance.”

PIC­TURE; GETTY IMAGES

0 School can­teen chefs flagged up emerg­ing pres­sures caused by the smart­phone fac­tor

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