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Preparing to head back to school - cooks and caterers

As school caterers prepare to return to kitchens for a new academic year, our Food for Life co-founder, Jeanette Orrey MBE, shares her words of support...

"In only a couple of weeks’ time schools in England will hopefully re-open fully. It will, I’m sure, be a very challenging time for all school meals staff; a very different world to what many of us have known.

Each school will be very different, each head teacher will require something different.

Up and down the country, caterers are preparing to tackle one of the most important aspects of the school day: providing a nutritious meal at lunchtime. And I’m certain, and have said so on many occasions, that catering teams across England will rise to that challenge for the good of the children and deliver a service which we are proud of.

 Many of these children will have had only a cold packed lunch for months and will be looking forward to a healthy hot meal. Five million children in the UK are now living in households that are food insecure, and over half of children who would have received free school meals are reportedly eating no vegetables, while just under half are eating no fruit. We all know that providing a nutritious lunch plays a crucial role in protecting children’s health but the difficulties in serving these hot meals re not to be dismissed.

Which is why the Food for Life team realise there are going to be many issues to face in the coming months and why we are writing to you now to offer our support. Many of you have been with Food for Life since the beginning of the Catering Mark in 2008, and have been part of the programme’s growth into Food for Life Served Here.

As Food for Life caterers you are leading the way in children’s school meal provision.  What you are doing every day means that children are fed healthy and tasty food that’s good for them and also good for the planet.

Many of you, due to how quickly lockdown came into force, will have freezers full of food which needs to be used, a pantry with dry goods which again need to be used up. Some of you will have been asked to provide only sandwiches for the first few weeks, bubbles will be formed, classrooms will be used instead of dining rooms or school halls, a simplified menu may have to be put into place.

The Food for Life Served Here team are here to support you. Please do let us know if your certification will be changed by any of the above so that we can work with you on the supply chain challenges you’re facing. We very much value your partnership with us and look forward to working with you all in the future.  

Thanks to you, over 1 million healthy and freshly prepared meals are served every day in schools to children across the UK."

Please do get in touch to let us know how your plans for the return to school are taking shape, and how we can support you.

You can contact us on ffl@foodforlife.org.uk or 0117 314 5180.

 Download the School Food Checklist for Covid-19


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