School caterers have the ongoing important task of keeping the food service they provide interesting and healthy, whilst keeping to budgets. Not only does the food need to be appealing to pupils but it must also meet parents’ expectations.
The concern over the nutritional quality of children’s diets is at the forefront of the public health agenda so demonstrating that food is of a high standard is important to caterers. Caterers often ask how they can have their menus and service externally validated because they are searching for a solution that allows them to prove they are doing a good job.
There are several options available including an audit from a Registered Dietitian or nutritionist and recognised catering sector awards such the CAP and the Food for Life Food Served Here by The Soil Association.
In this 5 minutes interview, Kelly Livingstone, Director of Operations for The Collegiate Trust, tells Company Dietitian, Anna-Maria Holt her motivation behind going for the Food Served Here award and how it will help promote the service she provides.
What were your reasons for applying for the Food for Life Served Here award?
Having worked in the catering industry for several years now, I have seen a variety of catering companies gain the Food for Life Award and thought to myself, “I want that too”.
I felt the service and standard of food we serve daily needed recognition and for me there was no better way to do that than achieving this prestigious catering award for all to see. We wanted the food that we serve at Riddlesdown to be recognised for meeting high standards in terms of nutrition and sustainability.
We currently feed children from 4 years right up to 18 years of age and it is imperative we supply the best possible quality food to enable our pupils to grow and develop well.
What changes did you need to make to get you to Bronze?
Firstly, I had to look at our existing products to see if they met the FFL criteria using a very useful tool from one of our suppliers. Once I had mastered getting the food right my work began with my team and the students.
I focused on creating a board displaying the products that we were purchasing such as Red Tractor meat and free-range eggs and spoke to my team about what the different logos mean and why we were doing this.
It was interesting to hear their views; who buys what and then how, since the training, their shopping decisions had altered opting for the red tractor meats and cheeses and the free-range products.
On the day of the inspection, my team did me proud by demonstrating their knowledge of the products and answered everything correctly!
What are the benefits to pupils, staff and parents?
For me, the award is about expressing the importance of supporting our local community in terms of food and health, but also supporting UK food producers as our Red Tractor and farm assured products are sourced from local farms.
We also want the students that are eating the food we cook and serve to be healthy, well-nourished and to enjoy meal times at school. We want parents to be assured that they can trust the ingredients and products we source to be of the highest standards. The FFL Served Here award does this by promoting freshly cooked meals, nutritional standards and sourcing products with high welfare standards.
Students now take a real interest in where the food being served comes from by accessing information from the provenance board, which is displayed in the diner.
The support from suppliers has also been great and my team cannot wait to visit one of the farms to see it all in action!
Going through the process has benefited the whole school community because it has helped us to raise standards, educate ourselves and those around us and produce food that is better for our health and the environment.
How will you use the award to market your school food?
The framed Food for Life Food Served Here Award certificate now resides in the Collegiate Trust reception area for all to see. The award clearly demonstrate the high standard and quality of the food we serve.
How did Pelican support you through the process?
Following a visit from the Food for Life Development Manager, I, together with Anna Maria Holt and Sarah Garnade, our dedicated Pelican Account Procurement Manager, compiled a plan of action. Both of them supported me step by step through the process.
Anna analysed our hot food menu and suggested recommendations in order to achieve 75% of our dishes to be freshly prepared using seasonal ingredients. Anna has also provided us with guidance and ensured our menus were fully compliant with school food standards.
Sarah checked our purchasing history and identified products that did not meet the award criteria. She sourced Food for Life suitable products, organised restricted buying list, liaised directly with suppliers to obtain all the relevant certificates and information that we had to supply as part of our evidence.
At the end of the interview, Anna says: “There are several other options available to caterers to help them, including an audit from a Registered Dietitian or nutritionist, as well as other recognised catering sector awards such the CAP.
School caterers have the ongoing challenging task of keeping the school food offering interesting and healthy, whilst keeping to their tight budgets. Not only does the food need to appeal to pupils but it must also meet parents’ expectations.
There is an increasing concern over the nutritional quality of children’s diets and this topic is at the forefront of the public health agenda. Demonstrating that school food is of a high-quality standard has become paramount to caterers.
Whether you are working in education, healthcare or the hospitality sector - Pelican can help
Pelican is member of the Soil Association’s Food for Live Served Here Supplier Scheme. This means that we are able to fully support our clients in successfully gaining the Food for Life Served Here award.
As such, we are able to not only source products that fit within the Bronze, Silver and Gold criteria, but we understand the inspection process and can help caterers overcome challenges and prepare the evidence.
A real advantage is that we already have the supplier relationships in place, work with clients to create ‘locked in’ purchasing lists, and have online systems that track the details of all products, making it far easier and quicker to be able to track and monitor progress, in addition to access the evidence needed to demonstrate compliance.
Reports can be produced outlining product and supplier compliance, purchase histories can be documented and help is on hand from experts who have been working with the standard since it was created in 2009.
To find out more about the Food for Life Served Here Award, and how Pelican can help your business – please contact Anna-Maria Holt BSc Hons. RD, member of British Dietetic Association and Company Dietitian at Pelican Procurement Services on 01252 705200 email firstname.lastname@example.org