Veg-tastic school meals win national recognition

Hampshire County Council’s caterer HC3S has been praised for its efforts to get more primary school pupils to eat their vegetables

Dec 15 2023

The service is the only local authority caterer in England to be awarded a ‘green traffic light’ by the Food Foundation - a national organisation committed to increasing the amount and variety of vegetables in children’s diets.

Councillor Steve Forster, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said: “I am delighted that HC3S has been recognised for completing their pledge to support more children to eat vegetables. Children who develop a taste for vegetables are more likely to eat them as adults, so it’s vital we give our pupils a healthy start in life to set them on a path where making healthy choices is the norm.

“It’s extra impressive that HC3S has earned this award because they are the only local authority caterer to do so, which has been achieved despite the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.”

As part of their commitment to children’s health and wellbeing HC3S promised to:

  • revitalise the school lunch menu with a wider variety of vegetables and ensure there are two portions of vegetables in every meal,
  • promote the fresh, seasonal vegetables in school meals to pupils, families and schools to make them aware of the quality of ingredients and produce that their children can eat at school, and the health benefits that nutritious vegetables can bring, and
  • encourage healthy eating at home by making it easy for parents and guardians to find easy-to-cook, affordable veg-based recipes on the HC3S recipe bank online.

The Food Foundation invited school caterers to make their pledges in 2020 as part of its Peas Please initiative, which aims to improve veg consumption in the country - with a focus on low-income families and children. The Foundation strives to bring together partners from across the food system - from retailers and farmers to manufacturers and caterers - to improve education and make vegetables more readily available and appealing.

A high number of Hampshire’s 426 primary schools, as well as 17 secondary schools and 23 special schools, use HC3S to provide their school catering. For more information about HC3S visit their website.