Barking and Dagenham Council has achieved a Gold Food for Life Served Here award and become the ninth local authority in London to hold the standard.
The council produces 20,000 meals a day to 60 schools in the borough, including Roding Primary School in Dagenham, where pupils enjoyed a special lunch last week to celebrate its caterer’s achievements. Pupils ate some of their favourite menu choices including macaroni cheese, BBQ chicken, sweetcorn, vegetable rice and ice cream roll dessert.
Leroy Cyrus, catering operations manager, at Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “We know that a healthy meal at school can contribute significantly to a child’s wellbeing, as well as to their capacity to learn throughout the remainder of the school day. Providing a balanced nutritious lunch in schools has long been our commitment, and I’m thrilled that the passion and hard work of our catering service is being recognised through this top level award. Pupils say how much they enjoy their school meals: their enthusiasm, along with that of our whole catering team, is the driving force that will help us continue delivering award-winning school meals.”
Rich Watts, Food for Life Served Here manager at the Soil Association, added: “When you have a caterer working across such a number of sites, achieving a gold award is a fantastic achievement and the team at Barking and Dagenham have consistently demonstrated a commitment to our highest standard for school meals. With the confirmation in the past few days that Universal Infant Free School Meals will continue for those in their first three years of school, this really is a double celebration.”
To achieve the gold award Barking and Dagenham Catering Services had to demonstrate that a significant proportion of the ingredients they use are sourced locally or from within the UK, with at least 15% certified as organic. They also had to show they are being proactive in making healthy eating choices easy in schools.