The health and wellbeing of everyone in Scotland is of paramount importance and the promotion of healthier eating is a key factor in achieving our ambitions for a healthier Scotland. Our whole school approach to health and wellbeing ensures that our children and young people are given the right facts and information on the importance of making positive food and drink choices as they develop and grow. Of equal importance is that these messages are reinforced through the provision of balanced and nutritious food and drink as part of their school day. Not just at lunchtime but across the whole school day.
Our current Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008 have been in place in all schools since 2009. Whilst those Regulations have been instrumental in bringing about much positive change, we want to ensure that our children and young people continue to be offered food and drink that reflects the latest scientific evidence and dietary advice on food health and nutrition. The new Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which take effect on 8 April 2021, are aligned more closely to our Scottish Dietary Goals and are centred around four key themes to make school meals even healthier.
The new Regulations will increase access to fruit and vegetables, ensuring that our children and young people can access their 'five-a-day' at school; reduce the amount of sugar that can be accessed in school; bring provision of red and red processed meat in line with the Scottish Dietary Goals; and change the way food and drink is offered in secondary schools to better meet the needs of young people.
In July 2018, we published A healthy future: Scotland's diet and healthy weight delivery plan which sets out our vision of a Scotland where everyone eats well, and we all have a healthy weight. Giving all our children and young people the best possible start in life and reducing diet-related health inequalities is essential to this.
Schools have a pivotal role in supporting healthier dietary choices from an early age. The food and drink options they provide and the eating and drinking habits they instil can also serve as an example for positive dietary choices for wider society.
This guidance has been written to support the commencement of the new regulations in April 2021. It aims to help all those involved in provision of food and drink across the school day to provide tasty, balanced and nutritious options which will help support the growth and development of children and young people and help them make informed food and drink choices as they grow older.
I am pleased to say that this guidance has been developed through significant engagement with a wide range of stakeholders in the public sector, as well as within the food and drink industry and catering sectors and I want to thank each of them for their contribution. I know that everyone involved in the provision of food and drink in school shares our commitment in ensuring that healthier food and drink choices will be available at all times of the school day.
We all have a part to play in shaping the choices of children and young people but government and schools cannot do it alone, we need the support of parents, industry, community and producers. My hope is that by us all working together, we can ensure our children and young people develop the skills, knowledge and experience they need to make positive dietary choices and lead long, healthy lives.