School Dinners are winners!

A record breaking 40,000 school meals are being served up to Hertfordshire primary pupils every day.

Hertfordshire Catering, the county council’s school meals provider, has seen uptake soar by 18.5 per cent in the last three years - the highest figures for over a decade.

“Hitting the 40,000 mark is a ten year record for Hertfordshire,” said Lin O’Brien, Head of Hertfordshire Catering. “We’ve calculated that in the financial year 2009/10 our team of catering staff produced a total of 7,425,750 lunches.”

Latest figures reveal that primary meal uptake overall was 44.7 per cent and in the spring term 2010 went up to 48.3 per cent, compared with a national average of 39.3 per cent.

Figures for secondary schools are also encouraging. Around 12,500 meals a day are being served - a 37.5 per cent take-up compared with a national average of 35 per cent.

“We are especially pleased that against the national picture, turnover in our secondary schools has actually increased in 2009/10 compared to 2008/9,” said Lin.

“They key to our success is that we are customer focused, involving children in developing our menus and trialling new dishes. We use consistent, high quality ingredients, and keep parents informed though our range of menu leaflets. And we have a committed team of catering staff preparing good school food every day.”

An impressive 78 per cent of Hertfordshire schools have attained healthy schools status – and Hertfordshire Catering has just been voted winner of the primary school section of the 2010 Healthy Schools’ Caterer award with California Raisins.

Richard Thake, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “Hertfordshire’s primary school menus are a recipe for success and these latest figures are a huge achievement.

“Hertfordshire Catering should be congratulated on promoting good school food as part of a whole school approach. It not only makes a difference in helping children to develop good eating habits, but also raises awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.”

Parents can log on to www.hertsdirect.org/catering to see the new menus.

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