ASSIST’s 15th annual Conference was roundly received as the best conference ever.Bill Kennedy, passing on the National Chair position to Alistair McIntyre of the Scottish Borders stated, ‘I’m proud of our services and also I’m proud of what ASSIST has achieved over the last 15 years. In the last three years under my tenure we have seen the launch of our consumer facing website, www.scottishschoolmeals.co.uk. We have put on some great promotions such as ‘The Culinary Games’, ‘Scottish School Meals Week‘ and this year’s ‘Year of Food and Drink’ promotion with Education Scotland and The Scottish Food and Drink Federation. ASSIST is more important today than ever. ASSIST is the national voice for our services, and we have become a real conduit between government agencies and local authorities.’
Speakers at the Conference were, Gavin Stevenson, CEO Dumfries & Galloway Council, Pete Ritchie, Director, Nourish Scotland, Fergus Chambers, Past National Chair ASSIST FM, Cyrus Todiwala, Chef Patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, Myles Bremner, Director, School Food Plan, Lesley Kirkwood, HNI, Rachel McAdams, NHS Scotland and Gary Ennis, of NS Design, Gavin Stevenson spoke about his vision for Dumfries & Galloway Council and the move to creating an enterprising focussed Department. Pete Ritchie, discussed the work of Nourish Scotland and paid particular credence to what was going on in Denmark. Fergus Chambers, walked us through the last 15 years with a personal and enjoyable take on past Conferences and initiatives. Cyrus gave an inspirational talk about using Scottish produce, and showed us why he has won many sustainable awards for his championing of British farmers. He also gave us a whirlwind talk about the cuisine of India – just don’t call it a curry anymore!Myles Bremner, began day 2 with a discussion of the initiatives taking place in England and Wales, whilst Lesley Kirkwood shared information on the BEBL project, the importance of partnership working together and gave us an indication of what was happening with the forthcoming education Scotland showcase event at the SECC. Rachel McAdams discussed the evaluation of the impact of free school meals in the Primary 1-Primary 3 group. To finish the conference, Gary Ennis gave an interesting talk about the dangers of social media and pointed out how much more strict we are in Scotland over seemingly innocent tweets and posts.The Awards were given out at the Gala Dinner on the Thursday evening. Awards went to:Best stand award – Love JoesASSIST Catering Team of The Year 2015, sponsored by UK Foodhall, was the team from the West End Campus, DundeeThe ASSIST Cleaning Team of The Year 2015, sponsored by Arrow Supplies, was Valley Primary School, FifeThe ASSIST CROSSING PATROLLER of The Year 2015 was Pearl Rendall of Aberdeen City Council.The ASSIST Scottish School Cook of The Year was Helen Roebuck of Stirling CouncilThere were two National Chair awards for 2015 given to David Cochrane of HIT Scotland and Alan Cunningham of Totalize Media.This year’s exhibition was a great success with 52 exhibitors and a record number of delegates (188), and many suppliers have already asked to have stands reserved for next year!Alistair McIntyre, the new national Chair of the organisation, summed up the conference thanking the superb speakers as well as the partner suppliers, and Conference sponsor Muller-Wiseman, for all their support. He laid out his plans for the next three years and stated. ‘One thing is for certain is that as an industry we have got many excellent dedicated staff who want to do their best for their local authority. And really that’s what ASSIST as an organisation wants too – we want to help our members – to give them information, and a sounding block to air their challenges, to give them opportunities to highlight their skill sets, and to shout about the successes that many of our organisations deliver. I hope and I am sure that the good work that ASSIST has done over the last 15 years will carry on for many years to come.’.