Following the inaugural UK Nutrition Day, Hugh Maclennan, Project Manager for School Meal Improvement for Buckinghamshire County Council, spoke to JFHC about how the council is working to improve children's eating habits in the area:
A large number of Primary Schools in Buckinghamshire stopped offering hot meals over 20 years ago, so this was our priority when setting up the School Meal Improvement Scheme.
The scheme started off by giving control of catering back to the school. enabling them to use local farm produce, prepared by experienced Chefs.
We now have 9 Hub kitchens supplying hot food to 60 primary schools most of which had not offered a hot school meal for over 20 years. That adds up to around 7,000 hot meals, prepared using local farm produce, served to children who previously were not receiving these in their schools.
Parents have direct access to the Head Chef within their child's hub school and access to the ingredients used in the preperation of each dish.
On top of this, we have now expanded it have head chefs offering chefs clubs to children centres.
Primary schools secondary students and 6 formers. Each course runs for 5 modules and are designed for the students to prepare the evening meal to take home for their whole family. Some of the courses are run for 10 modules the first 5 are with the children only and the second 5 weeks parents join in.
Since April 2012 we have successfully run over 60 courses (ranging from 8 students to 25 depending on facilities) across Bucks fully funded by Extended School Services, Bucks PCT and various other organisations. We now have a waiting list of schools who have expressed an interest in running chefs clubs for their students.
Each course is run on the same module recipes which are supplied at the beginning of each course which makes up into a recipe booklet by the end of the course.
Each recipe has 2 formats the first is a standard recipe the second is split into tasks for the adult and tasks for the children which enables families to create good healthy food together.
Some of the courses are run in conjunction with Food Technology Teachers who feel that the format of recipes are much more user friendly than the curriculum recipes.
All clubs will have access to a nutritional analysis tool which will be rolling out from April 2013.