Westlea Primary School joined in thousands of schools from across the country to celebrate the fourth-annual Food for Life Partnership’s national Roast Dinner Day on Wednesday 20 November.
The day was a celebration of the fantastic work going on in schools across the country to transform food culture and provide tasty and nutritious using fresh local seasonal produce.
According to the Soil Association, who are behind the Food for Life Partnership, a roast dinner is without doubt the most popular meal on a school menu, and as a meal traditionally eaten with family and friends, it is the perfect celebratory meal to bring communities together.
Representatives from the Soil Association and Food for Life Partnership joined the pupils for lunch.
The Soil Association led Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) works with nearly 5,000 schools across England, supporting the delivery of food education, through growing and cooking, farm links and improving school meals.
Funded by the Big Lottery’s Well-being programme, FFLP educates and inspires children about the journey their food takes from field to fork.
Libby Grundy, Director of the Food for Life Partnership said: "Roast Dinner Day is such a fabulous opportunity for schools and caterers to showcase the amazing work they do in schools every single day to feed and educate our children.
"It is a celebration of the great food our cooks and caterers produce in schools on a daily basis and very much supports the national School Food Plan’s which was launched in the summer”.
The plan highlights the importance of food education in increasing take-up of healthy, fresh school meals and FFLP is supporting Head Teachers to adopt a whole school approach that puts food, including cooking and growing at the heart of school life Independent evaluation has shown that schools working with the Food for Life Partnership increased their meal take-up by 5 percentage points over two years.
At Westlea, only 30 children had hot lunches when they were prepared in an off-site kitchen and delivered. Since it re-opened it’s kitchen in April 2011, numbers have grown to about 120 children enjoying a meal cooked in school by kitchen manager Linda Wells and assistant Claire Baldwin.
Linda said: "It’s pleasing that the number of children having a hot lunch is rising. It’s often because we get children to try something and they’re amazed about the taste and want to try more.
"We also organise tasting evenings for parents and they’re surprised how good the food is. So many people have really bad memories of school meals from their own days at school and they’re really impressed by how much they’ve changed."
For Year 6 pupil Robbie Gibson school lunches are a highlight of his school day. "School dinners are great. They taste amazing and I love the puddings; I try to get seconds if they’re available. The other thing is I can think better during afternoon classes. I live in Freshbrook and have to walk quite a long way to get home, but I have the energy."
Keen footballer Amelia McGinley added: "The lunch at Westlea are very tasty. There’s always a choice and we learn about healthy food so we know what we’re eating."
Enjoying lunch at Westlea Primary School with representatives of Food for Life, back from left, Kirsten Leask (of Soil Association Scotland), Susannah McWilliam, Lizzie Testani, and Westlea Primary deputy headteacher Sarah Sumner