They say a bad workman blames his tools. Always springs to mind when your new patio’s been botched or your other half has left you with water coming through the kitchen ceiling, after trying to fix the dodgy seal around the bath.
But if there’s one place where that phrase could never be applied, it’s school kitchens. I’ve worked with lots of schools over the years where kitchen teams are having to cope with facilities that genuinely aren’t up to the job: kitchens that are very old; or too small for the number of pupils they now have to feed; kitchens where the antiquated layout means staff walk miles each week just moving from work area to work area; or where they could save so much time and fuel cost if they had equipment which worked better, or was that bit more modern.
These fantastic kitchen teams are always determined their facilities won’t compromise the meals on children’s plates. They’d never blame their kitchen – their tools – if a child got a poor meal. They make do and get on with the job, day after day, year after year, because replacing kitchens and their equipment can feel like a complicated, expensive business for schools already struggling to balance the books.
But couldn’t we forgive these cooks a bit of a moan about their tools?
School cooks serve up millions of meals across the country, every single day. Often hundreds of covers in a dining room a short space of time, with some of the world’s toughest nutritional requirements to meet – a task that would fill many restaurant chefs with terror. Yet we think many cooks are delivering this important job without the support of the excellent kitchen facilities and equipment that they deserve. Good kitchen infrastructure is a vital part of a thriving school meals service. If we want every child to have a great meal at school, we need to help schools get their kitchens right.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with the National Association of School Business Management and PKL to find out how much of an issue this really is. How many school business managers are trying to find budget to tackle ageing kitchens or add more space? Is your school’s kitchen too small for the job? Are you constantly hearing from your kitchen team that old equipment is costing your school money?
Take the survey here and help us rate the state of the nation’s school kitchens.
Jayne helps schools improve their kitchens and dining rooms – even when budgets are tight. Get help from Jayne here.