School chefs cook up thousands of Christmas dinners for South Tyneside youngsters

Coun Joan Atkinson, at St Oswald's Church of England Primary School, Hebburn, having Christmas lunch with pupils, Lyla Carr, Cole Christie, Grace Heale and Layton Rutherford.
Coun Joan Atkinson, at St Oswald's Church of England Primary School, Hebburn, having Christmas lunch with pupils, Lyla Carr, Cole Christie, Grace Heale and Layton Rutherford.
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If making the family Christmas lunch fills you with dread spare a thought for the school chefs.

This year school cooks in South Tyneside will serve 965kgs of turkey and more than 160kgs of sprouts to 12,000 students and staff.

Christmas puddings have been made while Christmas tree-shaped choc-ices have proven to be a big hit for dessert.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families, said: “It is no mean feat to prepare a nutritional, well-balanced Christmas lunch for so many people, but we recognise the importance of offering a Christmas meal.

"Our Christmas lunches are hugely popular, with most young people enjoying a traditional turkey dinner complete with all the trimmings.

“However, we also offer a special vegetarian option to make sure no one is left out.

"Furthermore, all our recipes and products are analysed for nutrient content, in line with the Government's national nutritional standards for school meals.”

The catering team works closely with schools, health professionals, nutritionists and other agencies to promote healthy eating and encourage as many parents as possible to choose healthy school meals for their child.

Coun Atkinson added: “A Christmas lunch is a perfect meal to give young people, giving them all the essential vitamins and nutrients they need to keep their concentration levels at their best for the rest of the school day.”

School dinners in South Tyneside have been frozen at £2.10 for a two course meal for the third year in a row.

The average proportion of children taking a school lunch in primary schools in South Tyneside stands at 91% for infants and 70% for all primary school children while more than half of secondary school students take a school meal.