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Caterer challenges and changing guidance

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Caterer challenges and changing guidance*

The latest lockdown has caused widespread uncertainty and practical issues for school cooks and caterers across the country.

A challenging reality

Cooks and catering teams have been working hard to adapt to the latest guidelines, but with a lack of clarity, it has been challenging.

The sudden change in school meal numbers initially resulted in high levels of food going to waste. There has also been reports of a lot more children in school during this lockdown, meaning that it is more important than ever for schools and their catering teams to work together. However, with schools trying to manage learning and pupil numbers in general, many have understandably found this difficult.

Government guidance

In the first week of January, we wrote to the Department for Education urging them to support caterers.

We were pleased that following this, Government gave clear guidance for schools to work with their caterers as a priority - including for children still in school and at home where possible. Vouchers were to be issued when a catered option wasn’t possible.

Unfortunately, there was widespread reporting of poor-quality food parcels being provided by some caterers. Government no longer recommends food parcels as the first option.

However, Government still states that ‘schools may consider working with their school catering team or food provider to provide good quality lunch parcels’.

We know that schools and caterers working together is the ideal solution for school meals, making the health and wellbeing of school pupils a priority – whether they are in school or home learning. We’ve seen fantastic examples from Food for Life Served (FFLSH) caterers of good quality food parcels, meeting government guidance.  We hope that where possible, schools and caterers will continue to work together to provide nutritious food to children who receive free school meals.


Food for Life support

Jeanette Orrey, co-founder of Food for Life, expresses her concern for caterers, and her ongoing support:

The school meals catering industry is a family. Food for Life Served here is proud to be part of this family and is here to support you now in the most challenging of times.

If you have any concerns, give the team a call or email - we are here to help.

You are all doing a fantastic job never forget that.

You can get in touch with us via:

Email: ffl@foodforlife.org.uk

Phone: 07500 874048 - Caron Longden, Development Lead Food for Life Served Here and Green Kitchen Standard

Join our Food for Life Cooks and Caterers Covid-19 Facebook Group for more support from us and fellow caterers.


* This news item was updated 14/01/2021 following the updated Government guidance regarding Free School Meal food provision.