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Sustainable Dining at Sunninghill

By 13th July 2020October 27th, 2020News

Meal times at school have changed a lot during lockdown. The kitchen team knew that they needed to find solutions to serve pupils safely and maintain their reputation for delivering excellent and nutritious food. Find out how they did it…

The team immediately realised that they had the potential to be the hub of spreading the virus because they touch every single plate and glass that is used. They also felt it was not safe for the children to lean over each other’s food if we were to continue serving our normal family style.

The story is taken up by Kerry Davies, Catering Manager at Sunninghill, ‘Many felt that having their own individual packed lunch would be a better and safer conclusion but I didn’t want to compromise on lunches for the children. I explained to The Headmaster and Bursar that we could still produce great hot food, just with a bit more street style!’

Meal Times Are Changing!

Kerry continued, ‘We also agreed that whatever solution we came up with, it had to be eco friendly and it was at this point we got in touch with Vegware. They are a manufacturer and global specialist in plant-based compostable foodservice packaging and sell their range of over 300 products to 70 countries worldwide.

It was all an experiment to start of with, but we quickly realised that we now had the opportunity to try different food variations using these pots that can keep food hot and safe for the children.

Both children and staff are really enjoying eating in this new way.   We have had lovely sunny days and the children, and support staff could sit outside in their bubbles with their own pot of food and just relax. I was also keen to use this as an opportunity to try out new foods, so along came lamb pittas, salmon egg fried rice, Thai noodles and katsu curry as well as the old favourites like naan bread pizzas and spaghetti bolognaise.

Slow cooked lamb Pittas, with a Moroccan style couscous, and a side salad
Salmon egg fried rice, packed with lots of veg

Many of the things we have done during this period will continue into the new academic year. We have calculated that the cost of the disposable items equals that of running the dishwasher and, therefore, the environmental impact is as low as we can possibly make it. The cutlery can be washed at 85 degrees and will not perish and then when disposed of, it will break down within weeks. We are pleased to have been able to make the most out of the very challenging position we found ourselves in and at the same time provide children with home cooked tasty food in an environmentally positive way.’

Chicken tikka, with pilau rice and mini popadoms
Roast beef, with horseradish mashed potatoes, steamed peas and carrots and home homemade “Aunt Brendas” Yorkshire pudding! (Rich “red wine” gravy)

John Thorpe, Headmaster at Sunninghill said, ‘It’s been fantastic to see all members of the team coming together to solve complex problems during the last few months and the kitchen staff have been exceptional. The solutions they put in place have allowed us to maintain social distancing in the kitchen and the dishwasher room and they have continued to produce exceptional food in a safe and environmentally friendly way.’

If you’d like to find out more about how it all works, have a look at this short video.