PUPILS in Cumnock and Doon Valley are the example to follow when it comes to being provided with quality, locally sourced school meals.

East Ayrshire Council (EAC) spent just £50 on importing food products containing chicken from Thailand to use in school meals.

This was a miniscule amount in comparison to the total of more than £1m splashed out by councils across Scotland - on Thai chicken products alone.

Neighbouring South Ayrshire was one of the worst offenders, forking out over £40,000.

As a result, the, council’s catering team received their ninth Gold Catering Mark from the Soil Association, recognising their commitment to buying and serving locally produced and organic products.

South of Scotland MSP Brian Whittle, who obtained the figures through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, praised the SNP-Conservative administration.

He said: “One of the first things I did when I was elected as an MSP was to start asking where the food we serve in our schools and hospitals comes from.

"While the results of these investigations have obviously highlighted some cause for concern, I’m pleased to see that EAC are demonstrating that it is possible to provide tasty, high quality food to kids in schools.”

“Eating good, nutritious meals in school doesn’t only benefit the health of pupils but it can also improve their concentration and ability to learn.

"I hope EAC will continue to lead the way in supporting local food suppliers and that North and South Ayrshire Councils look again at where their school meals come from.”

“If governments are, quite rightly, going to ask our farmers to be the custodians of the countryside and work under a strict regulatory regime that, ensures Scottish produce is some of the best in the world, but also costs money to implement, it’s only right that governments also ensure the public sector supports these farmers by buying that produce at a fair price.”