Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the provision of special diet lunches

Why do I have to provide medical evidence?

Withdrawing a food group from your child’s diet should always be monitored by a health professional. Education Catering needs to be fully aware of potential symptoms and, if necessary, carry out a risk assessment. We use medical evidence so that we can provide special diet menus for those who really need it and not just to accommodate personal preferences.

Are Education Catering kitchens ‘free from’?

Due to the risk of contamination, unfortunately we are unable to class our school kitchens as ‘free from’. But, all our catering staff are trained in allergy awareness and food safety. So you can have complete peace of mind that your child is safe while eating a school lunch.

How are special diet meals prepared?

We prepare and serve special diet meals using different baking sheets, cooking and serving utensils. We will not use the same equipment or utensils to prepare other food items, without thoroughly cleaning them first. This will prevent cross contamination.

How will the catering team know how to identify my child at lunch time to make sure they receive their special diet meal?

We will provide the school with an orange silicon wrist band for your child to wear up to the service counter. They will be asked to hand this to the catering team member who is serving in exchange for their special diet meal. Also, we ask your school to agree to one or both of the following routes as part of our procedure to ensure your child is safe:

  • A member of school staff will take them to the service counter
  • A member of the Education Catering team will serve them first at the start of each sitting or year group

My child does not like some of the dishes on the special diet menu, so can I ask for the menu to be amended?

We are unable to accommodate personal preferences since this can cause confusion and increase the risk of error.

Can I provide my own food or ingredients?

We will only allow food purchased from our nominated suppliers in our kitchens. This ensures that we avoid any risk of contamination across our food chain.

What if my child would like to eat a school breakfast or select an option from the school tuck shop?

Our special diet team focus on feeding a healthy and nutritious lunch to children who have registered as having a special diet . This means we are unable cater for specific special diets for schools that choose to offer a breakfast or morning break/tuck shop service. If you would like a full list of ingredients offered for breakfast or the tuck shop, please email our Food Development team at [email protected]

Will my child have the opportunity to take part when their school holds a theme day lunch?

All special diet menus are developed from our primary menu and in accordance with individual dietary requirements on a twice yearly basis. Our priority is to ensure that children with special dietary requirements are fed safely and to do this, all meals prepared must strictly follow their menu. This means that our kitchens are unable to cater for theme day adaptations for special diets. We can, however, provide an alternative meal from your child’s menu, that may be the same or similar to the theme day lunch, as long as this features on their special diet menu.

My child only wants lunch on a special promotion/theme day. What should I do?

Our special diet team focus on feeding a healthy and nutritious lunch to children who have registered as having a special diet. We are unable to provide individual allergen menus for children who are not registered and only have an occasional meal. The only exception to this is Christmas lunch where we produce an allergen sheet, this allows parents to make an informed decision about whether the menu is appropriate for their child. To request this please email our Food Development team at [email protected].