A guide for the education catering industry on navigating the new normal

Every industry has been affected by COVID-19, and the education catering sector is no exception. Despite these challenges, the past year has brought the industry together and seen professionals unite to respond with innovative and creative solutions to deliver nutritious food to pupils.

But with resources stretched, it’s vital to continue to share ways to provide nutritious food whilst finding efficiencies, managing costs and keeping sustainability at the heart of education catering.

In partnership with CRB Cunninghams, ASSIST FMBrakes Scotland and SodexoFootprint Intelligence produced a highly actionable report, including research on caterers, suppliers, local authorities, NG0s, campaigners and other key players.

The report highlights some of the industry’s most pressing challenges, highlighting potential solutions to navigating the new normal, based on recent research produced by the Footprint Intelligence team.

The report includes insights on:

  • Supporting school food standards
  • Food wastage
  • Embracing menu and delivery innovations
  • Adopting a collaborative mindset
  • Increasing supply chain collaboration
  • Pushing for new policies

Download the full report.




Embracing technology and innovation

One key area of the report focuses on adopting agile management approaches and how the industry can be open-minded to flexible and innovative solutions. This flexibility includes embracing new technology to offer a more adaptable mindset to school lunchtimes. In the report, Stuart Brown, Head of Sales at CRB Cunninghams, said:

“Schools across the UK are implementing a ‘Grab & Go’ style food service utilising our pre-order app, Fusion Online. Pre-ordering software tells catering teams exactly what meals should be prepared in advance, helping to reduce food waste and improve stock orders.”




Amongst other key findings, the report also includes how pre-ordering apps, such as Fusion Online, have been hugely successful in allowing kitchens to plan and match production to sales more readily, reducing queues, waste and cost.

Whilst many schools were planning to implement these innovative types of solutions in upcoming years, COVID-19 sped up this process, resulting in hundreds of schools rolling out pre-ordering software overnight.

“In Scotland, local authorities have rolled them out virtually overnight, rather than over 12 to 24 months as expected.

The pandemic has shown that we should be brave and jump in, and that we will live to tell the tale and that this can help us find quick wins and solutions for our customers.” - Jayne Jones, Commercial Manager, Commercial Services, Argyll and Bute Council and National Chair, ASSIST FM.

Download the report to access the full findings.

Pre-launch preview

Before the official report launch, Footprint Intelligence hosted a panel where they invited report sponsors: CRB Cunninghams, Brakes Scotland, ASSIST FM and Sodexo, alongside various industry professionals, to discuss the findings and share insights on how to use this information to encourage actionable changes.




In the preview, Amy Fetzer, Head of Research and Analysis at Footprint Intelligence, explained the results of the research, with time dedicated at the end of the discussion for sponsors to share their experience throughout the past year and discuss ways to help the industry move forward to navigate the normal.

Paul Tennant, Corporate Account Manager at CRB Cunninghams, shared his thoughts on the importance of technology in school catering:

“What COVID has done is provide a catalyst for change through the technology to streamline the processes where pre-ordering, for example, is going to the new norm.

The beauty of technology is that it’s non-stop. It can always mould and change, and so the way we’re looking at it is, how can we communicate to pupils, staff and parents? We’re looking at positive messages we can drive through our technology to put the users in control of where things go next.”

The research findings from the report offer much-needed data, providing the industry with vital, actionable insights into the provision of school meals when pupils need it the most.

At CRB Cunninghams, we’re proud to sponsor this research which will act as a roadmap that will drive future innovations to provide long-term benefits to UK schools.