International School Meals Day is back for the ninth year to celebrate nutritious, hot school meals and the people that provide them for pupils globally.
With the recent struggles regarding free school meals and food parcels, there is no time better than now to appreciate the school caterers on the front line who have worked tirelessly to top up packages and deliver them to students working from home.
Safeguarding Pupils in 2021
2020 brought the news that schools would be facing closures around the country and beyond, which created additional risks for UK school children already facing one of the highest levels of food poverty in Europe.
Despite being the sixth wealthiest country globally, nine children out of every classroom of thirty in the UK lived in poverty even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which only increased as lockdown progressed. These staggering figures became evident when the number of households claiming free school meal packages increased throughout the year.
And the problems did not end there - after widespread public outcry due to the substandard quality of many of the food packages sent to families, it fell to fundraisers, businesses, communities, and school caterers to pick up the pieces.
With the typical rallying of the British spirit, many people came together to help others in a time of need. Huge businesses such as Aldi, Deliveroo and Iceland made headlines when they all joined forces under Marcus Rashford’s task force to back proposals from the National Food Strategy, calling for policy changes to reduce levels of child food poverty.
School caterers took on the responsibility of hand-delivering school lunches to students, offering a lifeline to those claiming FSMs, for some students, providing the only meal they will receive all day. Without the essential work of school caterers, many may have missed out on food entirely.
How can I get involved?
There are many ways to get involved with International School Meals Day:
- Create and circulate resources about the importance of healthy living and school meals
- Host an international menu session where you can try foods from different cultures and locations globally
- Connect with individuals throughout the food supply chain to learn more about their role and the importance of the food they produce
- Try cooking meals from international cuisines
- Host workshops
- Thank and appreciate key workers, such as school caterers, online or in-person
If you’re stuck for ideas, visit the official ISMD website for additional resources.
Whilst International School Meals Day raises awareness for today; we must implement real change for tomorrow and every day. Cashless catering software such as CRB Cunningham’s Fusion Online Pre-Order app can help schools reduce the strain on caterers at lunchtime, lessen food wastage and help to ensure students receive nutritious, healthy school meals.