Two of our catering teams have been shortlisted in the LACA Awards for Excellence. William Bellamy Primary School has been shortlisted in the Primary School Team of the Year category and Eastbury Community School has been shortlisted in the Secondary School Team of the Year category. These awards are held annually to recognise individuals and teams that have made a ‘real difference’ to school food and education catering.
William Bellamy Primary School – LACA Primary School Catering Team of the Year finalist
BD Together catering team at William Bellamy Primary are enthusiastic, dedicated and their number one priority is the wellbeing of the children. They pride themselves on the quality of the food they produce, exemplary health and safety standards and working harmoniously as one team, which is reflected in the way they work with the children and the staff.
The kitchens are always well run, the staff are punctual, well-presented and always full of enthusiasm. And above all, the food they produce is nutritious and loved by the children! They are at the very heart of the school and are held in high regard by everyone in the school community; the staff, the children and the parents.
The team arranges taster sessions so that parents can see and try what is on offer for their children, and to encourage children to try new dishes before they go on the menu. Following taster sessions, and listening to feedback from the children, they worked with BD Together’s Food Development Team to create a unique menu for the school, so that the menu reflects the likes and dislikes of the school and not the whole borough. This has resulted in an increase in the meal uptake across the whole school, increasing year on year by 10%. – plus happy children, clean plates and minimal waste!
The team regularly attend Student Council meetings with the children to discuss the lunches. This gives them direct and regular feedback from the ‘customers’ themselves. They listen carefully to feedback, positive and negative, and respond accordingly immediately, removing unpopular choices and adding new options. These regular meetings mean the children know the team in the kitchen and that there is a mutual respect.
Theme days are a big part of the school calendar at William Bellamy and the team, staff and children look forward to them and fully embrace the theme with great enthusiasm. At Christmas there was 96% attendance at the Christmas lunch along with 80 staff!
During the first lockdown, the team wanted to ensure the children who were still attending school were eating a nutritious lunch, knowing that for some that this would be the only proper meal they would have each day. For these children, the team arranged special days to keep spirits up. This included holding a celebration for VE Day with a social distancing buffet held outside. The kitchen team embraced the fun side of this and appeared dressed up as the Royal Family, much to the amusement of the children.
During the first lockdown, the team offered to be part of the BD Together team that were responsible for packaging and delivering over 1800 fortnightly food hampers to children within the borough of Barking and Dagenham. They went to the school to distribute the hampers personally to parents, knowing that this would give them the opportunity to ask the parents how the children were and to send message back to the children with their best wishes.
Healthy, nutritious recipe cards were included in the hampers so that the parents could cook with their children as part of their learning from home. The William Bellamy team worked tirelessly during a time of adversity and they did not complain once, instead embracing their additional workload, knowing that they were making a real difference to families in need or isolation.
The team at William Bellamy are fantastic ambassadors for BD Together, the school community and the wider community of Barking and Dagenham. And above all, the children at their school are their top priority. They go above and beyond every single day and their colleagues at BD Together are proud of them and their continual efforts, hard work and dedication.
Eastbury Community School – LACA Secondary School Catering Team of the Year finalist
The BD Together catering team at Eastbury Community School comprises a team of 16 hard working and dedicated people who have a real passion for preparing a wide range of healthy meals for the pupils at the school.
In additional to providing lunches, they also provide breakfast and have recently started supplying healthy packed meals for the children who attend the after-school club. They are constantly on the go and even with the high number of students, the team never get fazed, are enthusiastic and always work with a smile.
The concept of mealtimes was recently changed with the kitchen team and the school working together to make the food service area look trendier and more appealing with the addition of ‘street food bars’. These included Sub Station, World Street, Chicken Shed and The Diner. These new food bars showcase favourite meals that have been requested at the Student Council meetings and are diverse to cover all the different ethnicities of the student population at Eastbury Community School.
The team leader attends the monthly Student Council meetings and through being able to regularly listen to the students and share ideas, is able to constantly ensure the food options are popular with the students. This regularly liaison with the Student Council has become an integral part of the menu planning.
Sustainability and reducing the school’s carbon footprint are high on the agenda for the catering team and for the Student Council. Last year the environment was the main agenda item at the meetings and as a result, the following initiatives have been introduced:
- Food deliveries are made in reusable crates.
- Elimination of the use of single use plastics. Water bottles were purchased for each child and water stations installed around the school.
- Recycling and food waste bins have been installed throughout the school, in the playground and in the kitchen. The food waste bins enabled the team to assess the amount of food that was being wasted and then introduce initiatives that have successfully and significantly reduced food wastage. This included encouraging the students to ask for the portions size that they know they will eat, ensuring perishable goods are first in/first out and arranging for food waste is collected by a specialist company to be turned into fertiliser. If takeaway containers are used, they are biodegradable and are disposed of in the recycling bins provided.
In the secondary school, children with special needs were given the opportunity to come to the lunch hall before the general school population so they could get their lunch first and with extra assistance from the team if needed. These students had the opportunity to develop good relationships with the catering staff and even taught them sign language for the different food options. The team and the students now communicate with each other using sign language every lunchtime!
The catering team at Eastbury Community School is a shining example of how a dedicated team can help the children and young people in our borough to get a right start in life. They do this by building good relationships with the children, ensuring they receive enjoyable, healthy nutritious meals that cater for every need whilst still being conscious of the environment and their surroundings.
The teams at William Bellamy and at Eastbury Community School have risen to the challenges of Covid-19 and have adapted their working practices accordingly to ensure strict health and safety standards are met and children have their lunches served in their ‘bubbles’ to adhere to social distancing guidelines, whilst still offering nutritious, varied and tasty hot school meals.
Well done to everyone at William Bellamy and Eastbury Community School on their hard work and efforts. And congratulations to all other shortlisted teams and individuals in the LACA Awards for Excellence. The winners will be announced on 25th November.