Get what you want….what you really, really want from your school food

??????????????????????????????????????????????????  This week, I’m attending a fantastic workshop to launch a Food Partnership for Lambeth conference called ‘Who Feeds Lambeth?’

In this borough – the fifth most deprived in London, where around a third of children live in poverty and where children have higher than average levels of obesity – they’ve been doing lots of work on using good food in schools to support children’s health, as well as health for the wider community.

There’s a dearth of primary school places here (as there is across inner London), so schools and the council are having to do lots of thinking and planning about how they’ll meet demand in future. It also means that when it’s time to renew their school food contract, it’ll be a huge opportunity.

Reviewing your school food contract – whether it’s a local-authority-wide contract serving lots and lots of schools, or your own individual contract with a private caterer – is your chance to think big and go shopping. It’s your blank piece of paper to sketch out what you want your school food service to deliver – not just the practical elements (though they’re important), but also how you’ll want it to fit with the ethos of your school, the environment in which you want your students to eat and how your work on good food can help the wider community too – you might want to open your kitchens for community training or cooking clubs, or champion the example of good school food to promote better choices by the whole family. What do you want to do differently? What should stay the same? Is there anything new you want to try?

It’s often said of project management that if you invest the time to come up with a really clear brief, you’ll reap the rewards in the delivery. That’s why reviewing your catering service and coming up with a strong specification is so important. It’s easy to get hung up on things that you’ve always done (or always moaned about). But get talking to parents and children; give yourself some head-space to get creative; try to erase what you already know and design the service you’d want if you could wave a magic wand. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Looking forward to hearing views from lots of Lambeth headteachers on Wednesday!

Read more in our guide to reviewing your catering service. Get tips on running a tender using our free quick guide to retendering your catering service or talk to our experts for more detailed advice. We’re here to help.

Jeremy leads our team of experts who support schools with all aspects of catering. Email Jeremy.