Do you have an external caterer?

To meet the food quality requirements of your Food for Life Award, schools with external (private or local authority) caterers will need their caterer to hold the Food for Life Served Here award at Bronze or above.

This does not apply to settings who have in-house catering arrangements or who either provide / have their meals provided by an other early years setting or school at a small scale (see below for more details).

On this page you'll find:

Why ask your Caterer to hold the Food for Life Served Here award?

  • The Food For Life (FFL) Served Here award requires caterers to demonstrate compliance with the national voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings and verifies that caterers have these systems in place for meeting the standards.
  • Caterers who are accredited by FFL Served Here are subject to an annual inspection, including on site visit, so we – and you - can be sure that your food meets our award quality standards.
  • If your caterer holds the FFL Served Here accreditation, you’ll automatically check off all the criteria in the food quality section of your award which means that you don’t need to gather any further evidence and documentation.

Check whether your Caterer already holds a FFL Served Here award

  • Coming soon to the site- find caterers which hold the FFL Served Here award.
  • Contact your caterer to find out if they hold the Food for Life Served Here accreditation and if it covers meals served in your setting. Please note you can ask to see the caterer’s schedule of certified sites in order to check whether your meals are awarded.

If your caterer holds the FFL Served Here award for your setting let the Food for Life awards team know and we’ll make sure the relevant criteria are checked off.

If your caterer holds the FFL Served Here accreditation, but not for you, arrange a meeting with your Catering Manager to let them know that you are working towards your Food for Life award and would like them to extend the scope of their FFL Served Here award to cover your meals. See the Caterer section below for advice on how they can do that.

If your caterer does not hold a FFL Served Here award:

  • If you are considering a change of caterer or renewing your contract, specify that they must hold Food for Life Served Here award in the tender / contract.  We can provide some examples of how others have approached this.
  • If you already have a caterer in place, arrange to meet with your catering manager and pass on information on the FFL Served Here accreditation, which you’ll find here
  • Get in touch and let us know the name of your caterer.  We can pass these details to our FFL Served Here team who will get in touch with your caterer and explain what they will need to do to achieve the award.
  • Highlight benefits of FFL Served Here to them – you can find these here. Your caterer can also have a look at the FFL Served Here FAQs to answer any initial questions they may have.
  • Agree timescales and award levels – Caterers should allow six weeks for the application process to accommodate the application inspection and any actions raised.
  • Ask your caterer to let you know how they are getting on, for example: when their FFL Served Here inspection is due to take place, and any actions that arise after inspection. Their FFL Served Here accreditation will be awarded as soon as they have completed these actions – so ask them to keep you posted!

What support is available to help your caterer achieve FFL Served Here accreditation?

If your caterer is already a FFL Served Here award holder but not for your setting, it is very simple for them to extend their award. All they need to do is to get in touch with their FFL Served Here Certification Officer, who will talk them through the process. They will need to supply their Certification Officer with the following information:

  • The name/s of the setting/s they would like to add, and their location/s
  • The date when they will be serving FFL Served Here menus to your setting
  • Any differences in the new menus.

If they are not sure who your Certification Officer is, they can call 0117 914 2411 or email

If your caterer is not a FFL Served Here award holder, ask them to get in touch with their regional FFL Served Here Development Manager and arrange a meeting. This meeting will help assess where they are now and what they may need to do to achieve a FFL Served Here award. The Development Managers are there to provide caterers with practical advice and support as they work towards accreditation.

There are many benefits to holding the FFL Served Here accreditation, not least that it verifies the meals served meet the national voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings. 

Once your caterer has achieved their award, the FFL Served Here team will work with them to communicate their achievement to a wider audience, including local press.

If you need any further information or help, please contact our awards team on 0117 314 5180 or email

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Confused by Catering?

Is our catering external?
If your local authority or a private catering company manage your kitchen or deliver hot meals to you, your catering is external.

Is our catering in house?
If you self-manage your catering service, employ your own team, create your own menus, and manage the ordering process, your catering is in-house.

Still not sure?
Ask your administrator / business manager or give one of our team a call on 0117 314 5180.

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