Students from the Tuxford Academy food forum saw at first-hand where the food on their school menu comes from after visiting a local abattoir and pig farm.
The school has been working closely with Notts County Council on meat and animal welfare issues and this included a visit to an abattoir in Chesterfield.
“The field to fork visit was a unique opportunity for the students to see where the meat used in our school menus originates from,” said Donna Baines, the council’s food development manager.
“The visit was educational and informative and showed the high animal welfare standards that are in place.
“I think the day had a huge impact on many of the students and it certainly got them talking,”
Donna has also worked with the students on the new winter menus and has arranged for the produce grown in the school’s large vegetable garden to be used in the kitchen.
The visit to the abattoir brought a mixed response from students.
Alice Holmes, 14, who is a vegan, said she found the visit “quite shocking” but added that she could see the slaughter process was done as humanly as possible.
And Kathryn Daly, 13, added: “I think after this visit, I’ll be eating less meat.”
But Jamie Martin, 13, said: “It was a really interesting visit and it showed me the excellent quality of meat used in our school dinners.
“I’ll continue to eat meat as it’s an excellent source of protein for a teenager.”
Tuxford Academy’s Sandy Dodd said the students had shown a very mature and grown up attitude at the abattoir and they had the option to leave the room at any point.
“The students saw the whole process from when the animals arrive at the abattoir through the slaughtering process, it was both enlightening and educational,” she commented.
The students also visited Spittlemoor Farm, where farmer John Walker explained how the pigs were reared.
As well as holding newly born piglets, the students also had a trip round the farm site on a trailer.
“The welfare of all the animals on the farm is the utmost importance and as members of the Red Tractor Farm Assurance scheme we set high standards,” said Mr Walker.
“I’m delighted that the students found the visit informative and I was very impressed by the probing questions they asked.”
Also on the visit was Daniel Salmon, a manager with award-winning butchers Maloney’s from Tuxford, meat suppliers to the county council.
He explained to the students how Maloney’s works closely with the farm and the council to supply meat for thousands of school meals every year.
“I can assure parents that their children are eating the best possible meat in their school meals and I am proud of our association with Notts’ school meals service,” he said.