Back to school never tasted so good!

Sponsored: Deborah Homshaw, managing director of CH&CO Independent, reveals her excitement, confidence and motivations as we safely return to school

Can any of us recall a start of a new academic year that’s been so hotly anticipated and so desperately wanted than September 2020? I, for one, am thrilled to be back to school with all our pupils and once again part of our wonderful school communities – even if it is at an accepted distance.

Without a doubt, school, from the classroom to the dining room, is going to be very different for some time to come and we’ll all need to continue to be flexible. However, one constant we can promise is that our focus remains on delivering intrinsically nutritious food to all our pupils whilst inspiring a lifelong love of good food – in a Covid-secure way, of course.

It’s been a challenging and disruptive time for school communities and as we return to a ‘different normal’, never has it been so important to look after the physical and mental wellbeing of everyone – from pupils and their families to teaching staff, school management and our catering teams. Always championing the power of great food and the impact it can have on us both physically and mentally, we will continue with this message at the heart of what we do.

Working very closely with clients, understanding each individual need and meticulously planning, we are ready for the September return. In line with government guidelines, our Food Safety Management System reviews are complete, and our risk assessments and all our operating procedures aligned to ensure the safety of everyone. We’ve reviewed and agreed menus and service styles, school by school, and developed tailored back-to-school mobilisation plans to safely deliver catering for pupils and staff in each unique environment. And, our teams are welcomed back with support and information, including guides and training on safe systems and practices, as well as how to use their PPE effectively.

We’re thrilled to be back in the schools we love and committed to safely delivering intrinsically nutritious, delicious and exciting food – whatever the future throws at us!

We’re confident in our Covid-secure safety measures but this alone is not enough. Understandably, people are anxious about returning to school and it’s our job to reassure everyone that we will deliver safe catering that remains the highest quality, with wellbeing at its core, and continues to be fun, engaging and educational.

With that in mind, communication has been an incredibly important tool in our Back to School toolkit. We’ve kept in regular touch with clients and school communities to offer key information and confidence, including important updates, details on safety measures and menus for the term ahead, ensuring everyone knows what to expect from their catering teams from day one.

Our incredibly popular From the Kitchen initiative, which extended our interactive, educational activities from the school dining room to pupils’ homes throughout lockdown with delicious recipes, nutrition information and fun activities, has helped maintain interest and enthusiasm around food. We’ll be developing this inclusive line of communication throughout the school year. Virtual marketing and messaging is clearly the new norm for us all.

Whatever style of service we’re safely delivering – from hot meals in the dining room to packed lunches delivered to classroom bubbles – there’s going to be nothing ordinary about our menus.
They will continue to be varied, nutritious, inspiring and delicious, with an ongoing focus on sustainability, using seasonal produce and reducing waste, which, as well as being good for the planet, will offer clients value for money.

We’re still living and operating in uncertain times. Who knows what turn this devastating virus will take next? Strong relationships between schools, caterers and parents have never been so important; not just to ride out this storm but to remain agile, creating positive and meaningful support and opportunities for our pupils today and into the future.

I am so incredibly proud of my teams and how they’ve responded to the pandemic, with the wellbeing of pupils their core motivation. We’re thrilled to be back in the schools we love and committed to safely delivering intrinsically nutritious, delicious and exciting food – whatever the future throws at us!


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