• CATERING MONTH: Looking back on a decade of transformation in school catering

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    The past ten years have witnessed a significant shift in the landscape of school catering in the UK. Gone are the days of the stereotypical “dinner lady” serving up a limited menu of stodgy classics. Today’s school meals are a far cry from their past, reflecting evolving nutritional guidelines, a growing awareness of dietary needs, and a renewed focus on student well-being. Let’s explore this exciting decade of transformation…

    A Shift Towards Healthier Options:

    The introduction of the School Food Standards in 2007 marked a turning point. Catering providers have moved away from fried and processed foods, embracing fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Stricter sugar and fat limits have encouraged healthier menu choices, promoting balanced nutrition for young minds and bodies.

    Catering to Diverse Needs:

    The rise of allergies, intolerances, and vegetarian/vegan diets has necessitated a more inclusive approach. Catering providers now offer a wider variety of options, ensuring students with specific dietary needs can participate fully in mealtimes. This includes gluten-free alternatives, dairy-free options, and plant-based protein sources like lentils and chickpeas.

    Embracing Sustainability:

    Sustainability has become a key consideration for many schools. Catering companies are increasingly committed to reducing food waste, sourcing local and seasonal produce, and minimizing single-use plastics. This not only benefits the environment, but also provides students with a deeper connection to the food they eat.

    Student Engagement and Empowerment:

    Gone are the days of passive meal consumption. Schools are now actively engaging students in the catering process. This might involve menu planning workshops, food preparation demonstrations, or even opportunities for students to grow their own produce in school gardens. Such initiatives foster a sense of ownership and encourage students to develop healthy eating habits.

    Technology and Innovation:

    Technology is playing an ever-increasing role in school catering. Online ordering systems allow students to pre-order meals, reducing lunch queues and food waste. Cashless payment options offer convenience, while innovative kitchen equipment streamlines meal preparation and ensures consistent quality.

    The Road Ahead:

    The future of school catering in the UK promises continued evolution. Expect to see further emphasis on cultural sensitivity, catering to ethnic dietary preferences. Additionally, personalised nutrition might play a role, with meals tailored to individual student needs and health goals. Ultimately, the aim is to create a school dining experience that is not only nourishing but fosters a positive and inclusive environment for all students.

    Are you looking for Catering Solutions for your organisation? The Education Forum can help!

    Photo by Eiliv Aceron on Unsplash


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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