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National School Meals Week
National School Meals Week takes takes place this week (12-16 November) and will see a host of events celebrating all that is great about a healthy school meal. Here’s what is happening
This year's National School Meals Week marks the initiative’s 25th Anniversary.
The week hosts a range of activities celebrating all that is great about school meals, as well as highlighting the benefits, such as health, creativity, academic attainment, concentration and behaviour. There will be a number of high profile events taking place, with a mixture of political activity and engagement with school caterers, pupils and parents.
As part of preparations for NSMW, LACA held a poll to find out what the nation’s favourite school meal is over the last 25 years.
Curry and Rice emerged as the winner, out of a list which included popular meals such as pasta, roast dinners, fish and chips, homemade pies, and pizza.
The Nation’s favourite school dessert was also put to the polls. In the running were fruit crumble, jam & coconut sponge, cheesecake and pineapple upside down cake, but the overwhelming favourite was chocolate sponge with custard.
LACA and NSMW are now encouraging school caterers to serve the nation’s favourite as part of their NSMW celebrations and send in their pictures.
Taking to the road
As part of National School Meals Week, LACA will be hosting activities across the country, reinforcing the five important messages about school food; education, concentration, attainment, energy and nutrition.
The ‘Powered by School Meals’ road show will include a visit from a ‘scientist’ character educating on fun food facts, a buzz wire where the children concentrate on getting to the end of the puzzle trying not to ‘buzz’ the buzzer, and a magnetic puzzle where the children select magnetic pieces from a box and make the design up into a picture.
To reinforce the message about energy, children will be encouraged to take part in some simple exercise, similar to circuit training, and to highlight the nutrition message, NSMW sponsors Kraft Heinz will speak on choosing the right food to help fuel the school day.
The route is planned out (see www.thegreatschoollunch.co.uk) and will start in Wales and end in the West Midlands for LACA’s Autumn Seminar.
This year, there will be a one-off event to celebrate Prince Charles’ 70th birthday, which takes place during NSMW. To mark the occasion, former LACA Chair and cake maker extraordinaire Carrieanne Bishop, will be producing a cake fit for a (future) King. Carrieanne will collaborate with 2018 LACA SCOTY Regional winners, including the overall winner Michael Goulston, to make different elements of the cake and demonstrate that school caterers are skilled and knowledgeable individuals.
#cookeditmyselfie will return this year. Schools are encouraged to send photos of their food for a chance to win £500.00 prize of equipment or marketing support.
National Roast Dinner Day will also be back, led by the Soil Association’s Food For Life initiative. Free to download resources are available.
Host a School Chef will also return, with school cooks entering a professional kitchen. Last year, the Ritz Hotel London, Rick Stein’s Sandbanks Restaurant, and the Chester Grosvenor, hosted a school chef.
National School Meals Week will conclude with a high profile event at the House of Commons on 20 November to keep school meals firmly on the political agenda. MPs will be able to sample the very best of school meals from a specially designed 25th anniversary menu.
Last year, Karen Robinson, a team member of NSMW, took the message of healthy school meals to the road, by running the equivalent of five marathons in five days, with meals provided by schools along the route.
LACA chair of events Neil Porter said: “The five Marathons in five days, ‘Powered by School Meals’ project was hugely ambitious and involved an incredible amount of organisation. NSMW team member Karen Robinson committed herself to running two half Marathons a day in all ten LACA regions in England and Wales across the week.”
“It was tremendous to take NSMW on the road and fully engage with the LACA membership around the country and every region deserves terrific credit for the way they worked with the NSMW team to make each individual stage a great success in its own right.
“To see hundreds of children, parents, teaching staff, catering staff and LACA regional committee members joining Karen for part of her journey was fantastic. The celebration of great school food to ‘Power’ Karen up for her next part of the route was equally rewarding, as it demonstrated to the best possible effect what our industry can do when it pulls together.”
“In every region there were local dignitaries present, with mayors, councillors, MPs, and Welsh Assembly members in attendance (we even had GB athlete Jess Coulson running with Karen in the North West region) celebrating all that is great about today’s school meals.”
“In addition, the Marathons showed how generous LACA members are by collectively donating £5,000 to the Chair’s chosen charity, the British Heart Foundation. LACA Chair Tim Blowers said that he was ‘truly humbled’.”