International School Meals Day
On International School Meals Day it’s worth celebrating the fantastic job done by school cooks and caterers across the world to make sure children at school are happy healthy and ready to learn.
Every day we’re impressed by what’s on the menu at schools across the country. We’ve enjoyed many a school meal over the past 13 years and heard from the most discerning of food critics - the children!
“I’ve never liked cabbage before. Now it’s sweet and crunchy”
“Courgette cake was yummy because I couldn’t see the courgette”
But for International School Meals Day we thought perhaps we’d share a story from Austin Texas, where our partners Whole Kids Foundation reside, and where schools are experiencing a revolution in school food!
Meet Anneliese Tanner, Food Service Director for Austin Schools District. Anneliese has taken on 120 schools in the Austin District. She’s a force of nature! She has a background in finance but cares deeply for children’s health so took on the role of Food Service Director as she was fed up of seeing awful food being served. This is the equivalent of SFM's CEO, as a parent campaigner, deciding to run a catering company!
She has amazing backing from the District who are investing heavily into the school food service, with new kitchen builds to support scratch cooking. The canteen has been designed to support health; salad bar first, then the main course, followed by a water dispenser and ‘bulk milk’ ie milk from a dispenser. Introducing bulk milk is radical. In the US, children have traditionally been given milk in a carton with every meal and more often than not, chocolate milk. Children now take what they want when they want it so this has cut consumption dramatically. This is deliberate for reasons of health and climate.
When introducing a new item to the menu, Anneliese gets her team to hand out taster pots to children the day before it comes onto the menu. This way children know what they’re going to get the next day. Free school meal rates are high in many of Anneliese’s schools and she noted that many children wouldn’t try new things as school lunch was the only hot meal they receive in a day so they didn’t want to risk taking something they might not enjoy. The taster pot initiative has increased the range of foods children will try and reduced waste.
Three cheers for Anneliese and all the wonderful men and women across the globe who work tireless to make school meals great!
In other news ...
Last week Team SFM went on a shopping trip to see what we could buy for £15 to provide five delicious meals during school closures.
It appears that the Department for Education is tasked with reviewing the value of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) so for those yet to understand the benefits of the ground-breaking policy, here's a little refresher.