We spoke to Anne Burns, Oldhams's Principal Education Catering Manager, about Oldham's work with Food for Life Served Here over the last 10 years.
Why did you want to become a Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) award holder?
10 years ago I attended an AGMA meeting where the presentation from FFL struck a chord with me. I have always been passionate about animal welfare and good food and the award seemed to fit my personal ethos and was something. I thought would benefit the kids in Oldham. High animal welfare, sustainability and local food go hand in hand.
In your opinion, what are the benefits and why should catering providers join FFLSH?
It’s all about maintaining a high-quality service, embedding the standards and having the external assurance that we are doing what we say we do. I have lived these standards over the last few years and the award has given us a platform to build close links with our suppliers, who have supported us all the way. Liveseys and TC Meats have been crucial in us meeting the standards. We now have 7 items of organic on the menu including milk, yogurt, minced beef, cheese and pasta. Plus our
eggs are free range or organic and all our fish is MSC Certified through Brakes.
Have there been any changes to your license?
We have maintained gold over a period of time and I think this is down to the relationship I have with my suppliers. We haven’t swapped suppliers. We meet regularly and discuss what ingredients are available to us. The suppliers act as a hub for us and bring in produce from other sources to allow us to continue with the award.
How do you feel your sector has changed in the last 10 years?
We changed from using packet sponges to making sponges from scratch really early on in our journey. This involved re-training all our staff and we had sponges of all different shapes and sizes and although there was some reluctance at first our cooks soon learned that doing this was much more satisfying. The children in Oldham have much more cosmopolitan tastes now than they did 10 years ago. They love spicy food and the menu looks very different – although some things that we still have on the menu are traditional choices such as roast dinners and cottage pies as the children love these and don’t tend to be served them at home. We have at least one meat free day a week now – and are looking to move to 2 days.
What have been your FFLSH highlights over the last 10 years?
Working as a team in Oldham – we are small in numbers but have achieved lots. The support we’ve had from Bristol – one’s that have left and some still here. Achieving the bronze felt a huge achievement but then gold was fantastic. We also won a BOOM award which was the icing on the cake. I still get a buzz from holding FFLSH – and anyone visiting us feel our passion.