The value of the school meal
Providing hundreds of tasty, healthy and fresh school meals every lunch time within a limited timeframe is a crucial part of the school day. Sadly, since many pupils rely on their school lunch for their main hot meal it’s doubly important that the food served is the best it can possibly be and will be enjoyed by both children and staff alike.
We caught up with Robert Weiner, Director of Educo to ask him his two top tips for creating school meals service that pupils will love.
1. Know your audience
Recognising the needs of your school population and setting out the clear expectations of the catering requirements at the outset is a crucial part of establishing a successful service.
The first step achieving this is to define your school’s needs. This is achieved by creating a Catering Specification, a document of must haves, desires and aspirations.
By understanding the demographics and backgrounds of the pupils in the school the Catering Specification will set out the bespoke needs of the pupils. This allows the caterer to deliver a menu which incorporates the tastes and styles of cooking that the pupils are used to having at home and also develops their range of tastes with interesting innovations. This ultimately improves the take up of the school meal service.
The risk of not understanding your school’s catering needs, having an inexact catering specification or relying on a one-size fits all group wide approach means the ultimate catering offer will be neglecting the unique and individual catering demands of your school. This will ultimately result in lower meal take up or more pupils bringing a packed lunch to school.
Most schools know and understand their school populations and can articulate where and why their existing catering service may be failing. Educo can share expertise and will assist the school in identifying the school’s requirements and aspirations to create a bespoke specification. If needs be, Educo can assist with designing pupil surveys to identify pupil and parent catering needs.
2. Keep it fresh
Using fresh seasonal ingredients is a fundamental clause in all Educo Catering Agreements which in addition to fresh foods also requires a proportion of organic ingredients as set out in “Food for Life Served Here” standards. All Educo Catering Agreements require a minimum of the Bronze Food for Life Served Here accreditation although many primary schools are already serving Gold standard school meals with at least 15% organic ingredients.
In addition to ensuring that fresh seasonal vegetables are served with every meal, Educo’s recommended service specifications will also include the serving of homemade breads, fresh salads and fruit for pupils and staff to enjoy.
Educo is an independent catering & facilities management consultancy working exclusively for the UK education sector. Educo work with special, primary and secondary schools, multi academy trusts and further education establishments providing a comprehensive range of services to help Head Teachers, Governors and Bursars establish service levels, monitor and improve the performance of their school meals catering provision.
Educo ensure there is a clear Catering Specification and legal Agreement which establishes clear standards for the level of service and its ongoing operation.