So, from the recipes we develop, the products we buy right through to the training we provide and the cooking process, we are aware of what and how we cook our food. Find out more about our partners and the ingredients that go into our food.

The impact of climate change

Because we recognise animal feed is a huge contributor to deforestation, it’s one of the reasons why we are working hard to reduce meat consumption across our organisation and have set targets to reduce the red meat on our menus.

It’s also why we don’t purchase palm oil for cooking and are committed to purchasing 100% sustainable palm oil products from RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) accredited suppliers.

Research shows that when palm oil is produced sustainably, with zero deforestation, the plantations can be a positive element in the local agroecological system, even attracting wildlife. The environment, workers’ rights, and the land rights of local people are all protected, and livelihoods improved.

Orangutan in the Borneo jungle, Malaysia

How does palm oil threaten people, destroy rainforests and cause climate change?

Indonesia’s tropical rainforests are among the world’s most diverse. They provide critical habitat to species including highly endangered Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and orangutans. 

Rainforests are the earth’s largest sinks of carbon, storing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In Indonesia, rainforests are razed to create industrial palm oil plantations, releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A single palm oil plantation can destroy the forests, watersheds, and forest resources of thousands of Indonesians, leaving entire forest communities to face poverty.

Asian Sumatra elephants

Healthy choices for a health future

We meet Public Health England nutrient targets and have strict criteria when it comes to salt and sugar in recipes.

As a leading caterer in education in Hampshire, we contribute to helping combat public health challenges that the UK faces today. Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey show that although young people should get no more than 5% of calories from sugar, 87% exceed that limit.

Avoiding sugar

We follow Public Health England’s guidelines for all of the food industry on how to achieve the 20% sugar reduction across the top nine categories of food that provide the majority of sugar in the diets of children up to the age of 18 years.

Woman holding apple and cake.

Avoiding salt

A healthy diet is as important as choice and value. That’s why we prefer to use spice and herbs to flavour dishes and remove the need for salt. We actively encourage our suppliers to reduce the salt content of their products to ensure we meet Public Health England salt targets which aim to continue to gradually reduce the levels of salt in the foods that contribute the most salt to our diet.

Our progress

When planning menus, we look to use reduced sugar recipes, reduce the amount of added sugar and add more fruit to our desserts. We also offer fresh fruit every day in schools and in our workplace and have reduced the number of times we serve biscuits as part of the primary school menu, so they are more of a treat. In secondary schools and some primary schools, we have replaced our Yazoo drinks with the no added sugar variety.

Working with an in-house nutritionist

A medical diet is required when the choices offered on the main menu or cold offer are unsuitable due to an individual’s medically diagnosed food allergy or intolerance. We use an in-house nutritionist to ensure children who are registered with us for a special diet menu also have nutritious school meals along with their peers. The in-house nutritionist works closely with our food development team to ensure the food we serve is not only tasty and healthy but complies with school food regulations.

Nutritionist looking at camera and showing healthy ginger in the consultation.

School food regulations

Education Catering’s school 'classics' menus are compliant with the School Food Standards as set out in the School Food Plan and follow the plans recommended portion size guidelines for primary and secondary aged pupils. We closely follow the principles set out within the Eatwell Guide, which was released in March 2016. So, when we cook meals for children and young people, we provide them with food that promotes good health and helps them get the most out of their time in the classroom and on the sports field, allowing them to flourish.

In addition to our ‘classics’ menu, some schools also offer children a jacket potato menu or a cold picnic-style menu. The jacket potato menu is a popular choice during colder months while the picnic-style menu is popular during summer months when children want to eat quickly and get outside in the sunshine.

Jacket potatoes can pack a variety of nutrients for good health. When eaten with the skin they contain a fair amount of fibre and amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Potatoes are also a good source of iron and zinc which is good for children’s immunity.

Both these menus are not offered as standard but are your school’s choice. If you would prefer that your child only eats from our ‘classics’ menu to ensure they eat a balanced diet throughout the week while at school, then please speak to your school directly so they can manage this request. Both these menus still include vegetables on the side and a dessert as standard which helps to balance the overall meal on that day.

Find out more about our approach to the School Food Standards.