Blackpool Council’s Catering Services lay out exciting future
Posted on Tuesday 27th April 2021
Blackpool Council’s Catering Services have laid out plans for an exciting future following a challenging 12 months.
Throughout 2020, in addition to maintaining its usual support for Blackpool’s schools, the department formed a key part of the pandemic response, which saw a number of Blackpool Council employees redeployed as part of the Corona Kindness scheme to assist with the delivery of essential services, including food parcel distribution.
With the help of volunteers and partner organisations, over half-a-million meals were prepared and distributed across Blackpool, an effort which ensured that school pupils, families and adult individuals received critical support.
The council’s catering services have since become the biggest education caterer in Blackpool after eight new schools joined their team this year.
A number of projects are now in the pipeline which will enable the team to develop new partnerships and make improvements to catering provision across the town.
The Peas Please Pledge
The catering services have proudly made a pledge to The Food Foundation’s Peas Please campaign to increase vegetable consumption across schools in Blackpool.
The move will see the service implement a number of changes within the school environment which will guarantee that children living in Blackpool will have at least one healthy, balanced meal a day, providing pupils with the nutrients they need to help their growth and development.
Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, said:
“We are extremely proud to make the Peas Please pledge to help improve the lives of children living in Blackpool.
“By 2023, our catering services aim to increase the amount of vegetables procured across our schools’ portfolio by 10 per cent. We will do this by developing our menus and recipes, offering children more vegetables five days a week, as well as refining our meat-free options.
“We believe that educating children on food from a young age will help them to make healthier choices later on in life.”
Rebecca Tobi, Project Manager for the Peas Please programme said:
“We are delighted that Blackpool Catering Services have joined our community of Peas Please pledgers, with a really impactful veg pledge that will see them commit to increasing the amount of veg served across their schools portfolio by 10%.
“School meals can make a real difference to children’s health and wellbeing, so it’s great to see Blackpool Catering Services make such a well-rounded pledge and commit to boosting veg consumption in their schools.”
Working with Schools
Increased collaboration with schools will see pupils create bespoke menus that meet the needs and tastes of young people, including:
- Freshly prepared nutritious meals
- Three-week cycle menus, with varied choice of meal options
- Menus that comply with nutritional standards
- Special dietary needs and vegetarian options
- Food to help children think and grow
The council’s catering services have formed a partnership with school councils and are collaborating with young people to plan and finalise the new menus.
Wherever possible, the fresh produce is sourced via partnerships throughout Lancashire, guaranteeing the provision of local, quality products including meat, fish and eggs.
They also provide over 11,000 breakfasts each day to schools across Blackpool, ensuring pupils have the best possible start to their day.
The Chef’s Academy
Blackpool Catering Services’ mission is to become industry leading, with a sustainable, community-based approach to improving nutrition, health, education and employment.
The upcoming Chef’s Academy, set to launch in September 2021, will form a key part of the organisation’s future vision.
£120,000 of internal investment has resulted in the development of a real-life working environment where children in years 10 and 11 will gain the cookery skills, knowledge and techniques they need to break into the industry.
Through blended learning, students will have the chance to gain externally verified qualifications, including:
- Level 2 Certificate in Hospitality and Catering Principles
- Level 2 Food Safety
- Level 2 Health and Safety
- Level 2 Allergen Awareness
Upon completion of the two-year course, participants will be encouraged to apply for apprenticeships through the catering services’ partners, such as the Winter Gardens.
The new venture will take place at the Highfield Day Centre in South Shore and will ensure young people in Blackpool are engaged in an ambitious career pathway which supports employers in the town by developing tomorrow’s workforce.
The Bronze Food for Life Award
In March 2021, Blackpool Council’s Catering Services were presented with the Food for Life Served Here Award from the Soil Association for serving fresh, locally-sourced meals to Blackpool schools.
The accreditation recognises that the meals provided by the service go beyond meeting the School Food Standards and ensure that children are being served healthy, nutritious meals, which:
- Meet with the animal welfare standards
- Exclude endangered fish from the menu
- Use free range eggs
- Meet the dietary and cultural needs of every pupil
- Signpost where the ingredients have come from
The award also honours the service’s commitment to consulting both pupils and parents in making improvements to school menus, which are minimum 75% freshly prepared.
Bryn Hamer, Head of Development at Food for Life, said:
“Blackpool Council, having achieved the Food for Life Served Here award, are leading the way in improving food culture in their schools. Achieving a Food for Life Served Here Award is a fantastic accomplishment and a true reflection of a caterers’ commitment to serving school meals that are nutritious as well as tasty.
“We know that good food is a crucial part of the school day and with fresh, healthy meals being served, students are equipped with the fuel they need for their learning and development.”
Cllr Benson continued:
“In both the classroom and the canteen, our mission is to educate and inspire pupils to lead a healthy lifestyle, which is why we’re delighted to receive the Food for Life Served Here award.
“We are immensely proud to be officially recognised as a provider of nutritious, sustainably-sourced meals, and we’re looking forward to teaming up with the Soil Association in the future to build on this achievement.
“Our congratulations go to everyone involved with the council’s catering services. These success stories are a demonstration of an ongoing commitment to changing people’s lives for the better.”
Posted on Tuesday 27th April 2021