Argyll & Bute Council are proud to have been awarded the winner of COSLA’s 2023 Excellence Awards – Service Innovation and Improvement for a trial delivering school dinners to remote locations via drone.
Flying from Oban Airport, the trial involves delivering meals freshly prepared in Park Primary School in Oban to Lochnell Primary, which is 1.5km away.
Argyll and Bute is Scotland’s second largest local authority, with 23 inhabited islands, the most of any UK authority. While the majority of schools have kitchens on site preparing meals, the provision of school meals to some rural and remote schools currently relies on traditional methods of transport including vans, taxis and ferries, which can be affected by weather conditions.
All P1-P5 pupils are entitled to free school meals, as are all pupils in early years, as part of Scotland’s 1140 hours a year of childcare scheme.
The use of drones would help the council to deliver meals to all remote and island schools, reducing current delivery times and costs and help contingency planning in emergencies. The drones also offer an alternative carbon-free mode of transport, as they are fully electric.
The trials are part of ambitious plans for the council to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Innovations logistics Hub at Oban Airport. The council received £170,000 of UK Government Community Renewal funding to create a detailed planning application with full design and costings in order to bid to the UK Levelling Up Fund.