Good school meals are worth shouting about. So National School Meals Week (NSMW), running 9 to 13 November 2020, is the perfect time for Schools by Sodexo to engage with pupils and parents on the vital connection between hot healthy lunches and improved wellbeing and learning.

LACA – the association that acts as a voice for the school meals industry – has been promoting National School Meals Week for almost 30 years. Against the backdrop of 2020 of course, there’s an even deeper resonance for caterers, parents and teachers, with the spotlight firmly on school meals through footballer Marcus Rashford’s #endchildfoodpoverty campaign. 

LACA’s message is that ‘a healthy, hot balanced meal supports learning and development’ and we’re never lost sight of this, even in the face of the challenging circumstances presented by Coronavirus (Covid-19). Schools by Sodexo's Food & Co offer for government schools – developed following extensive pupil research – continues to give under 18s the nutrition they need, and the food they like to eat. The Five Foodie Days menu for primary schools delivers a different daily theme including Planet Earth Day, a celebration of plant-based dishes, World Food Day and Friday Favourites. 

For NSMW, theme days remain firmly on the menu and our dishes will be reflecting the best of the week’s agenda with additional meat free options, pupils’ favourites, roast dinner day and meals that showcase the best of British produce. Roast chicken is making a welcome comeback, toad in the hole is popping up and a chick pea and spinach curry aims to prove that meat free options can be just as tasty. With the weather turning too, it’s a chance to offer Winter-warming puddings to fill school children with energy, including spotted dick and chocolate bread and butter pudding. 

Promotional posters have been supplied so the children can get a heads up on the week’s lunches, and schools are being encouraged to post the full NSMW menu on websites for the parents to access. 

“In ‘normal times’ we loved inviting parents in to see the quality of the food we serve, and regularly went into classrooms to invite the pupils to vote for their menu favourites,” says Lindsay Rhys-Jones, business area manager for 15 Oasis Academy Schools Sodexo is contracted to in the Midlands and North of England.

We have had to adapt, but NSMW is a chance to bring some fun into the food and keep parents and children involved and enthused.

Where Covid-19 restrictions require, the lunches are being boxed and delivered to classrooms, building on our earlier insights that children love the novelty of street food style service and ensuring no pupil misses out on a hot meal. 

Individual schools are adapting the menus to reflect geographical and cultural tastes. Jo Adamson is a regional account manager in London and the South East and says:

In North London for example, we are cooking dishes that we know are really popular with Muslim and African-Caribbean pupils. By looking closely at sales and offering these favourites during NSMW we hope to encourage more school children to take a hot lunch.

If you'd like to know more about how Sodexo is working to re-design the school meal, please click here to complete an enquiry form.

November 09, 2020

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