East Ayrshire Council – Onsite Services
A pioneering campaign to increase uptake of school meals.
Against a background of increasing public concern about children’s nutrition, the Government has placed school meals at the forefront of the health improvement agenda. Scotland has seen an historic decline in the number of children choosing school meals and one progressive authority – East Ayrshire – appointed us to help reverse the trend in their area.
We were appointed to develop and implement a three-year marketing strategy for the school meals service with the ambitious objective of increasing uptake by 20%. This target was set in the original tender document in response to significant decline in the overall uptake of school meals in Scotland, particularly in secondary schools.
WHAT WE DID
East Ayrshire Council already had a pioneering school meals service, lead by Robin Gourlay, with a greatly improved product. Meals are now excellent value, highly attractive and nutritionally sound. Studies show that good nutrition can help with kids’ concentration and behaviour, and thus provide a range of social, economic and environmental benefits as well as improved health. With new menus in place, there had never been a more important time to inform pupils and parents that school food is a modern and attractive option. Following a stringent research programme among key stakeholders, we wrote a three year marketing plan, and an integrated communications programme was implemented. Over the past two years, this has included paid for advertising, PR, production of an educational film, a wide range of marketing materials and an incentive programme in partnership with Save the Children to encourage uptake of school meals.
A good momentum has been achieved, and two years into the plan we have already seen a significant increase across all East Ayrshire Schools, which is in contrast to the national trend of long-term decline.
The incentive programme has been launched for a second year and the Council service continues to defy the long-term national decline.