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Case Study: Tasting our way to better community meals

Scotland Excel’s new framework ensures that service users can get the meals they prefer.

Community Meals framework

When developing collaborative frameworks, Scotland Excel meet with and listen to the views of a wide range of stakeholders. There are always many opinions and among the most important are those of the people who use the services supported by the framework.

This approach was taken for the Community Meals framework which involved tasting sessions for service users in three council areas - South Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. This was no small task for Scotland Excel staff, who got busy in the kitchen preparing 624 portions of food for the 35 hungry people who attended!

The event welcomed older people that often view the delivery of a nutritious community meal as an essential service that enables them to continue to live independently or be cared for in their own homes. Carers and council officers were also in attendance, including Councillor Grace McLean from North Ayrshire Council, who meet with those taking part and learned how Scotland Excel frameworks support her council.

The tasters rated soups, main meals and desserts for quality, taste and texture. They also scored the meals on the aspects that contribute towards the convenient delivery of an appetising meal. This included the ease of opening the packaging and the clarity of information and instructions on the label. Score sheets were designed in an ‘easy read’ format so that people with sight or cognitive impairments could also take part.

The sessions were extremely lively, and many of the tasters entertained the team with their candid views. It was clear that they enjoyed being part of the evaluation process and were pleased that their views and preferences were being considered. Scotland Excel Procurement Coordinator, Nicola Burleigh commented on the sessions:

“The tasting sessions were essential to the evaluation of this framework, and the enthusiasm of those who took part meant a lot. Some enjoyed the samples so much that they finished every mouthful of their first dishes, forgetting that they had a lot more to try!

“Their feedback really gave us an insight into the difference the service makes to them. To hear how important the meal service is to them really highlights the difference we can make through the work we do in procurement.”

The Community Meals framework began on 1 September 2015. It provides a range of high quality meals which promote health and wellbeing. It also covers cultural and special dietary needs such as soft foods or diabetic meals. The framework supports a range of additional community benefits, and the four suppliers on the framework have all confirmed that they will pay the Living Wage to employees.