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Scottish parliament introduces £ 63 million scheme to set nutritional standards for children - first scheme of its kind in the UK

CHILDREN in their first two years of primary school are to be given free fruit at playtime as part of an Executive bid to improve the nation's health.

(Daily Record / February 20, 2003) -- The £63million scheme, announced yesterday, will also set new nutritional standards for school meals and provide bigger portions.

Education Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "The new measures will help local authorities and caterers serve up healthier meals.

"Pupils can expect to see improvements such as better facilities, fewer queues, more choice and generous portions of good quality food."

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said the nutrient standards for school meals would be the first of their kind in the UK.

He added: "School meal facilities will no longer advertise or promote food or drinks with a high fat or sugar content.

"Pupils will have healthy meal options and access to fresh chilled drinking water with meals. Schools should complement this with access to good quality tap water through the school day."

SNP education spokesman Mike Russell said the move was "a step in the right direction".

But Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan, who last year mounted an unsuccessful attempt to legislate for free school meals for all children, dismissed the Executive move as too little, too late.

He said: "Only a free, universal and nutritionally balanced meal at lunchtime for all school pupils will begin to turn Scotland's diet around."

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