Ever since Jamie Oliver set out on a mission to improve the quality and nutritional value of school meals in 2004 it has thrust school catering into the public eye. The popular series aired in 2005 and is probably most famous for Jamie’s aberrant hatred for the “Turkey Twizzler”, but more importantly the series shared an important message that science proves a healthy balanced diet aids the learning process. This coupled with the “free school meals” scheme offered by the Government that was recently well publicised thanks to Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford’s campaign to uphold the scheme, has undoubtedly put school catering under the microscope again.
As the human race continues to battle through the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are learning to manage the risks and find a “new normal”. This includes giving the general public the confidence to head back out to the high street and get children back in the classroom as safely as possible. Part of this procedure will be re-instating school meal offerings. As a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet now seem more important than ever there will be increased pressure on school caterers to deliver high quality and nutritious meals. In order to do so, some schools will need to address some outdated procedures and replace / update worn out kitchen appliances. In most schools catering managers must provide a “business case” in order to gain funding. These cases are often rejected due to a lack of useable data and analysis. This is why, in my job role as Project Manager at Marshall Catering Equipment I always conduct a detailed “condition report” of the existing appliances and accompany this with replacement costs, lifecycle analysis, estimated ongoing maintenance costs, running costs and BREEAM / energy efficiency information. All of the information provided in such a report helps to create a more comprehensive business case with a greater chance of success.
With the government making billions of pounds available to schools, hospitals and other government facilities as part of their plans to kick start the economy and drag what they have described as “crumbling infrastructure” up to date, now would be the perfect time to make much needed upgrades to school catering facilities.
Children do not learn without food in their bellies, like a car does not run without fuel OR in fact a nation does not function without an active economy. Therefore, it has never been more important for government facilities, local authorities and academy trusts to support the local economy by awarding work locally based on the quality of service as opposed to simply by the lowest price on the market.
By Simon Dibbs – B.A. (Hons.)