Caterers with the Bronze Catering Mark serve seasonal meals which are freshly prepared and free from undesirable additives. No GM ingredients are used, all eggs are from cage-free hens and meat is from farms which satisfy UK welfare standards.
The School Food Plan, launched in July 2013, sets out the step changes needed to improve food provision to millions of children in England. The plan references the Food for Life Partnership throughout, and highlights the Food for Life Catering Mark as the procurement standard for which caterers should be aiming.
Jacqui Henry, catering manager at Bedford Modern School, said: “It is important to achieve this award as only a small proportion of schools do. The award is recognition that we understand that lunch is a vital part of every student’s day, helping them to perform well at school as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle overall.
“We’re really proud of our seasonal menu; it helps the local economy and it is important that students appreciate seasonality. Different food grows in specific windows throughout the year and although you may be able to eat strawberries all year round it isn’t sustainable to do so or very eco-friendly. Nor will they taste the best. By offering a seasonal menu, we can use fresh, local produce at its best.”
Jacqui and her team of 20 spend a great deal of time devising a seasonal termly menu that is enjoyed by 800 people each school day.
Year 13 student Kasey Williams spoke enthusiastically about the food offered: “The great thing about the school lunches is the huge variety of fresh options: hot meals, sandwiches or jacket potatoes. The portion sizes are good too.”
Rob Sexton, chief executive of Soil Association Certification, said: ‘The Bronze Catering Mark is an excellent achievement which recognises the vital role that fresh, seasonal meals play in healthy, planet-friendly menus, especially for large-scale catering. It reassures customers that their meals are free from GM ingredients, trans fats and prepared from scratch.”