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Healthy and enticing school meals

A lot more is expected from school caterers than in the past. The catering team is now required to provide a food service that is enticing and following the latest food trends.

However, catering team also have a responsibility to ensure that the food is healthy and meets the nutritional needs for a range of dietary requirements including food allergies, food intolerances, vegan and vegetarianism.

The number of independent schools seeking nutritional expertise and support has increased significantly in recent months.

This trend appears to tie in with the publication of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan and the Sugar Reduction strategy, which have received extensive press coverage, highlighting the effects of a poor diet on child health including dental decay, weight gain and diabetes.  As a result, parents have more awareness and interest in the sugar, fat and salt content in their children’s diets and expect school meals to be providing food that is nutritious and of the highest quality.

Support from Registered Dietitian

As a registered dietitian, I am trained to provide evidence-based guidance and apply the sector appropriate standards to ensure menus are nutritionally adequate. Although independent schools are not required to meet the School Food Regulations (2014), it is good practice for private schools to meet the School Food Standards as a minimum requirement.

This gives catering managers the basic building blocks on which to plan their menus and enhance their offering as their food budgets allow. Catering managers have found that, by meeting the regulations, it provides peace of mind and a framework to demonstrate to parents that the school meals are of a good standard.”

Customer Case Study:

Thomas’s London Day Schools, a group of independent prep schools – demonstrating to parents that the school’s food is healthy and nutritious

Mark Newman, General Catering Manager at Thomas’s London Day Schools, is responsible for managing the complete catering function across all five high-profile schools.

He says: “When it comes to nutrition, I have been keen to provide complete transparency on our menus to reassure parents of our focus on delivering nutritionally-balanced menus which are constructed in a way that works.

Constructing balanced menus at the outset is a hard task.  You need to make sure that the meals are providing the children with everything they need to help them maintain concentration and keep energy levels up during the day. Plus, they need to be appetising so children look forward to meal times.

We break everything down and ensure that all our menus are reviewed and certified by Anna-Maria Holt, Pelican’s registered dietitian and nutrition specialist. Once the menus comply with the standards, I receive a certificate to validate that the menus have been checked by a registered dietitian.

I think we have been able to really strike the right balance here. Having support from Anna-Maria to evaluate, assess and certificate the menus provides an important part of the service that I receive from Pelican and delivers a great deal of reassurance to parents.”

Menu reviews and expertise

If you would like to review your menu or food/drinks products you buy to reduce sugar, fat or salt consumption – please contact Anna-Maria Holt BSc Hons. RD, member of British Dietetic Association and Company Dietitian at Pelican Procurement Services on 

Anna-Maria Holt

Company Dietitian and Health & Wellbeing Lead at Pelican Procurement Services

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