Commitment to serving local communities
Public sector caterers across the UK have quickly adapted during lockdown to keep providing essential services despite major unforeseen disruptions to their resources and supply chain. This quick turn-around in implementation during the pandemic brings to light their commitment to serve their local communities no matter the challenges they face.
In this article, we look at some of the measures that public sector caterers have taken to deliver their key service, why a hot meal service is so important for families, and what the future holds for school catering.
Shining a light on public sector caterers
Going beyond their duty of care to quickly implement new food delivery measures at the start of lockdown in the UK has resulted in many local authorities having delivered thousands of hot meals to families, vulnerable people, and those who rely on free school meals since the COVID-19 crisis began.
As lockdown eases and frontline staff continue to provide this vital service, the pandemic has highlighted the significant impact that foodservice has on our communities and families around the UK. It also brings to light the responsive and dynamic approach public sector caterers apply to their delivery processes, driven completely by their dedication to serving their communities. Ultimately proving that they will do what it takes to deliver their critical service when it is most needed.
Now with UK schools set to fully open in the coming months, public sector caterers look ahead to what the school lunch service will look like in the new school year.
The importance of hot school meals
School lunch is critical to student health and well-being, especially for low-income students—and ensures that students have the nutrition they need throughout the day to learn. Research from the British Medical Journal shows that receiving free school lunches reduces food insecurity, obesity rates, and poor health. Let's look at a few of the main benefits of a hot school meal service:
- School food protects our most vulnerable children against hunger
- School meals protect children with allergies in the dining hall
- There is no stigma in how school meals are provided each day
- School meals are an opportunity to teach lifelong healthy eating habits
- Meeting all children's nutritional needs bolsters learning
- School meals have a direct impact on children's health - such as reduced sugar and increased fruit & vegetable intake
A focus on hot meals for the new school year
For school caterers, continuing to offer their high level of service with the added challenges of returning to school after 3-5 months of closures will be their biggest task. We asked school caterers what their main challenges (and solutions) they face ahead of the new school year:
Q. School catering teams were already strapped for time before the pandemic, how will we be able to implement new safeguarding measures whilst delivering our standard number of meals?
A. Offering a reduced menu means that kitchens can focus on fewer variation of meals to keep up efficiencies and allow extra time for safeguarding measures. Opting for a Grab & Go delivery will also free-up staff from point-of-sale points, making them available for other kitchen duties.
2. Social distancing and safety for school kitchen staff
Q. What safeguarding measures are in place to protect kitchen staff?
A. Whilst these decisions are down to each individual school, we have seen many schools opting for a fully cashless solution by enhancing their technology with online payments and pre-ordering software, which for kitchen staff, would mean a significant reduction in cash handling. A reduced menu will also help catering teams socially distance with each member of the team dedicated to separate meals and areas of the kitchen.
The future of school catering
Whilst the future is always changing to meet new demands, one thing remains certain is the fact that public sector caterers are up to the task to change and adapt their service as needed.
There are many different routes to take when it comes to food service, which is why it's important to invest in a solution that works for your school. For some, that can be the introduction of a pre-ordering app or receiving school payments online. For others, schools may be looking to completely innovate their food service.
That's where we come in. Communication between suppliers is vital as we all work together for the greater good and provide innovative solutions to assist catering teams to serve their communities.
Are you thinking about making a change to your current food service?
Get in touch with our team who will be happy to talk you through your solutions.
Useful resources for school caterers