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Happy Birthday Herbie

Happy Birthday Herbie

Published at 6:02am 4th November 2015. (Updated at 5:42pm 4th November 2015)

North Yorkshire's very own healthy eating campaign is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

A mascot called Herbie the Carrot was created to highlight the importance of eating fresh food, fruit and vegetables in schools.

Herbie, who still makes regular school visits, has played a key role in buying better quality food and introducing healthier options.

Take-up of school meals has also increased from 21% to 70% over the last 30 years.

This year, North Yorkshire County Caterers will spend nearly £6 million on food to provide top-quality, fresh ingredients for 330 schools.

All food suppliers are based in the region, with most of them being local family-owned businesses.

Brian Fawcett, head of Gilmoor Foods which has supplied fresh and processed meats to school kitchens for the last 10 years, said: "County Caterers pioneered healthy eating before Jamie Oliver got out of short trousers.

"Schools are going back to basics, making their own breads, salads, lasagnes and cottage pies, and the uptake of school meals has risen year-on-year during the time of my contract.

"We supply schools with all the raw materials, most of which come from within a 60-mile radius.

"The pork comes from York and Selby auctions. We process that into sausages. We cure the pork legs into ham and cook and slice it for sandwiches. The beef comes mostly from Thirsk, Northallerton and Darlington. They all carry the Red Tractor symbol, which ensures the food is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly. All the meat we buy has full traceability. We can trace everything back to the farm."

Arnold Fewell, the creator of Herbie the Carrot, added: "It is quite incredible that Herbie has been promoting healthy school meals for so long. When I was at the launch, someone said he would only last a few years, but they were proved wrong a long time ago.

"He really sparks the imagination of young people and they love it when he visits school and puts on workshops and special assemblies.

"Herbie was created 20 years before the Jamie Oliver campaign on school meals and shows how far ahead North Yorkshire has been in promoting healthy eating at schools.

"I would like to congratulate all of the catering team who have put in so much time and effort over many years to create healthy meals at lunchtime. This will have a real impact on the future health of thousands of young people."