Earlier in the year, members of the Lady Royd School Council undertook a market research survey to find out what their fellow classmates thought about their school meals. The main findings of the survey were presented to the Catering Manager, Mrs Jennings, to provide valuable feedback and help her plan future menu’s.
This morning, armed with a set of questions they had put together with their classmates, Year 6 pupils, and members of the school council, Hafsa Hussain and Emily Johnson, met with Mrs Jennings to find out what changes had been made as a result of their survey, and what was planned for the future.
Mrs Jennings explained that she had worked with Assistant Manager and Chef, Mr Lafari, to incorporate some of the meal suggestions from the survey and introduced the ‘theme’ days which the girls agreed were very popular.
‘We did not like the trays: the food used to get squashed together on your plate. Having the plates are much better as they are bigger, so if you do not like something, you can just leave it at the side,’ said Hafsa.
The girls highlighted further menu requests that had come from their discussions with classmates: chicken nuggets and tomato ketchup, particularly to accompany fish.
Mrs Jennings explained that not only did she have to follow strict Government guidelines that restricted the amount of food that was pre-prepared, but she was keen to promote fresh, healthy food. She had therefore introduced chicken tasters in breadcrumbs, which were freshly made and a much healthier option, although she did admit to quite liking the ‘bought-in’ versions herself. She therefore agreed to include these on the menu, once in a while, as a treat and would certainly look to provide ketchup when fish was on the menu.
Pupils specifically wanted to know if the portions sizes could be increased and would she consider introducing ‘seconds’. Whilst Mrs Jennings was pleased that pupils enjoyed their meals enough to want more, she explained that in providing food for so many pupils (960 next year) and staff required careful management of portion control, to ensure she stayed within her budget. However, she explained that she did take into consideration the age of the child and that by Year 3 portion portion sizes started to significantly increase.
The girls were particular keen to introduce a system similar to other schools, such as ‘Stop – Pick – Go’ – where they bought a sandwich, dessert and drink. Mrs Jennings thought this was an excellent idea and was something she would definitely consider for next year, but the option of allowing packed lunched was up to Mrs Rimmer. However, she thought it was better to keep to school meals as it encouraged children to try a variety of foods.
The pupils wondered if it possible to decide for themselves if they had the vegetables served at each meal, but this was something Mrs Jennings was particularly against. She thought all children should be encouraged to eat healthy food and always include a portion of vegetables with their meal. She did say however, that if any pupil had a particular allergy she would certainly find them a suitable alternative.
Finally, the girls asked if there were any further changes planned for the school meals or the dining room itself for next year.
This enabled pupils to rate each meal, every day, which provided immediate feedback on the menu items served. Mrs Jennings promised to use this information to continually review the menu choices.
Mrs Jennings also mentioned the new service counters being installed over the summer. These would be very modern and fresh, with a slightly lower counter height to accommodate the youngest pupils. Two new fridges were also being added and a further till, to allow for a speedier payment system and ensure pupils could move through to the dining area more quickly.
After a brief tour of the kitchen to meet other members of the catering team, including Mr Lafari, the children returned to their class to report their findings.