Schools shun Cheshire school dinner shake-up

Three academies will provide their own food

Steve Docking

Catering services at three Cheshire schools have shunned a new dinner shake-up that would see food being provided by a national catering company.

They have decided instead to serve their own locally sourced food prepared by a chef.

Delamere C of E Academy, Winsford’s Oak View Academy and St Martin’s Academy in Hoole - who all work in partnership with North West Academies - have joined forces in a bid to manage their school meal provision, following news that school dinners in Cheshire West and Chester would no longer be supplied by local butchers.

In February Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) made the decision to amalgamate with Wirral to supply food for school meals under a new joint council firm called Edsential, meaning contracts by butchers including Dutton’s of Kelsall, Birtwistle’s in Northwich and Littlers in Sandiway - who had been providing meat for schools in the borough for almost a decade - were terminated in favour of food from catering company Brakes.

The news angered parents who felt ‘disappointed’ their children’s food was going to be provided by a ‘huge, global firm’ instead of from local sources.

But by managing their schools’ catering entirely in-house, the three academies hope to be given more control over their menus, enabling them to source and purchase local food ‘without compromising on quality’.

'A positive move'

Steve Docking of North West Academies said the move would also enable the chef at each school to design ‘healthy and nutritious menus with choice and flexibility and minimise food waste’.

He explained: “This is a positive move for all of the schools. We have decided to bring the entire catering process in-house, which will enable us to manage all aspects of school meal provision together.

“There will be no changes in how school meals are provided. Each of our schools will continue to benefit from the services of their in-school chef, but we will be able to purchase food locally and build relationships with local suppliers to ensure we can provide high quality, nutritious and affordable school meals.

“Each school will manage and retain total financial control over the provision of school meals and we will also have control over food quality and menu planning which will help to increase the take-up of school meals and minimise waste,” he said.

“By working together, Delamere, Oak View and St Martin’s can deliver value for money without compromising on quality and we can continue to invest more in education at our schools.

“Our priority is ensuring all of our children enjoy a high quality, fresh and nutritious meal each day at school.”

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