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‘Alexa, what’s for lunch?’ – App helps Dundee pupils make healthy choices

A new school meals app to “engage” Dundee pupils with what they eat has been unveiled.

The official launch of the region’s new lunch menu at Rowantree Primary School saw pupils given a chance to try out the Alexa skill ‘Tayside School Dinners’.

Courier News – Scott Milne story – New School Dinners – Dundee.<br />CR0001612<br />Picture shows; David Bachanek, P4, and Caitlin Walsh, P6, with the ‘Alexa’ which enables them to find out what is on the school dinners menu, at Rowantree Primary School today. Wednesday 30th May 2018.

The voice recognition technology will give youngsters the chance to use their phones or tablets to plan their lunches in the hope a greater level of interactivity will encourage pupils to make healthier choices.

The Alexa skill is available online and was developed by the council’s IT Division. The app will talk to the pupils and tell them what meals will be available on a given day.

The actual ordering itself will still be done in school, however.

L/R, Cllr Gregor Murray – Convenor of Children & Families Services, Paul Clancy – Executive Director Children & Families Services, Iain Waddell – MD of Tayside Contracts, Baillie Christina Roberts and Gary Conway – Facilities Business Manager Tayside Contracts, with some of the pupils enjoying the new school dinners.

Paul Clancy, executive director of the council’s children and families services, said the chance to incorporate modern technology into the process will make children more engaged.

He said. “It’s about our whole approach to supporting young people with nutritional advice.

“It makes kids think a little more about they are eating. The food is really nice. There’s a good balance in there so they can have chips sometimes as well.

“And I’m really proud of our partnership with Tayside Contracts, who have put in a lot of work to make this happen.”

Iain Waddell, Tayside Contracts managing director, said: “Our aim is to offer pupils a balanced menu with choice, and through education, empower them to make informed choices.

“We have a food and nutrition coordinator who develops and analyses school menus to ensure they are nutritionally balanced, and who can also deliver healthy eating sessions and workshops in schools on request.

“Fruits and vegetables are added to as many dishes as possible, sometimes ‘hidden’, to provide an additional source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Unlimited salad is available daily.

“We intend to increase the visibility of the fruit and vegetables to promote healthier decision making once they leave primary school.”

Surveys will be conducted with school staff in the near future as the local authority monitors what meals are a hit with the pupils to then adjust the menu accordingly.

 

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