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Nutritious dishes for International School Meals Day

by Fred Latty

Nutritious dishes for International School Meals Day

We hear from a selection of local institutions about what food and drink’s on offer in their kitchens

Russell House School

Sevenoaks, Kent

Tell us about your food and drink
All the food at Russell House is freshly prepared in our own kitchen, with a choice of a main meal, vegetarian or jacket potato or pasta dish. A fruit-based hot dessert is also provided, and we offer fresh fruit, cheese, biscuits and yogurt.

What are some popular dishes?
The roast meal on a Thursday and Friday fish and chips remain popular. We encourage all children to try the vegetables, of course, or select something from the salad bar. The menus are on a four-weekly cycle, ensuring choice and seasonal food throughout the year.

Are the meals nutritious?
They’re nutritionally balanced, with 90% of menus produced in our kitchen. We ensure fresh vegetables and fruit are available every day, and fried food is only on the menu on Fridays. We make food appealing through colour and ensuring portion sizes aren’t overbearing for younger children.

How do you promote healthy eating?
Staff talk with the children during lunchtimes, underpinning good table manners and the importance of making the right choices. Science and PSHE lessons ensure that school is supporting home, as children learn about the importance of a balanced diet, coupled with plenty of exercise.

Does the school use sustainable produce?
Our catering supplier is credited with Silver Food for Life, underlining our commitment to deliver locally-sourced, freshly-produced and sustainable food. All our suppliers are Kent-based, which means we support local growers and the community. Our current menus include locally-grown cauliflower, Bramley apples and potatoes.

Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory School
Five Ashes, Mayfield, East Sussex

What’s on your menu?
We offer nutritionally-balanced lunches to pupils each day, as well as a breakfast club for our early arrivals and prep teas to children who stay with us until 5.45pm. Healthy snacks for our youngest pupils and match teas for our older ones are also produced daily.

Are there many popular dishes?
Menus are carefully planned on a four-week rotation and include something for all tastes. The kitchen works in conjunction with teachers to include topic-related food and drink whenever possible. The children have confirmed that macaroni cheese is the most popular meal on the current menu.

How about nutrition?
The components of main courses are carefully selected to include ingredients from all food groups. We offer a daily salad bar, jacket potato and vegetarian options, catering for a range of dietary needs. Staff encourage good mealtime etiquette and make sure the children are eating balanced meals.

Can students learn more about eating healthily?
As well as teaching children the importance of healthy eating during curriculum lessons, we also run regular school initiatives. Our gardening club grows a variety of produce, which is included in the meals, giving children a real sense of ownership over their food.

Do you use local suppliers?
We’re proud of our links with the local community, and our produce is sourced from nearby villages. All our food is freshly prepared on the premises, making use of seasonal produce. The children have information about foods from different seasons displayed in the dining room.

Holmewood House School
Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Tell us what’s on offer
We produce everything from scratch and cater for a wide range of diets. Our pupils are very busy with lessons, sports and extracurricular activities, so our aim is to provide them with a healthy meal that helps them learn well. Healthy food equals healthy minds!

Any favourites among the students?
Spaghetti bolognaise, Chinese chicken and curries always go down well, and we even make our own yogurt! Each week we have ‘Try Something New Tuesdays’, where we introduce the children to new dishes and foods. It’s very popular and the children love trying new things.

Are your meals nutritionally balanced?
We carefully plan the menu each week, ensuring there’s a balance of protein, carbs, fibre, fresh fruit and veggies. We also keep abreast of trends in restaurants and pick up ideas from other countries. Variety is the key, and our food is colourful and well-presented.

How do you teach healthy eating to your pupils?
We work with the Pupil School Food Council, who give us feedback on the food and request new dishes. In this group, we talk a lot about why it’s important to eat healthily, and the children respond to this really well.

Do you support the local economy?
We work with Quarrinton’s Butchers in Rusthall and PK Produce in Biddenden. Our food often reflects what’s in season – it’s important children understand where their food comes from. One of the headmaster’s longer-term ambitions is to develop a kitchen garden in our walled garden.