Sponsored by Restaurant Design Associates
The team at Hampshire County Council Catering Services (HC3S) is passionate about making a difference in the education sector by using engaging marketing to persuade parents and pupils to choose a school lunch and, in particular, adopt healthy choices.
To engender such a culture right across the service is impressive, considering that it prepares 11.5 million meals a year for 504 education sites across Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire with a team of 1,800 staff.
A plethora of initiatives over the past year has included an allergy matrix, a focus on ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients produced within a 50-mile radius of Hampshire's borders, and a new, interactive design for school serveries with images and videos promoting a healthy message.
HC3S has been described as being "ahead of the wave" when it comes to using technology. In particular, the local authority is trialling Microsoft PowerApps to deliver and record online training, enabling cooks to concentrate on their core role.
Most impressive is the relationship HC3S has built with staff, school governors, pupils and parents. Ideas and opinions are shared through its closely monitored Facebook page, which became the market leader out of all school caterers in the UK just 10 weeks after being launched. Engagement levels regularly reach up to 35,000 posts a week, with more followers than all other school caterers combined. Furthermore, suggestions from Facebook posts are often actioned. For instance, a demand for a more sustainable approach has resulted in new suppliers being sought to reduce single-use plastics, while branded templates for focused menus have helped drive take-up.
School meals have also been promoted in the wider community, via, for instance, attendance at the Hampshire and New Forest County Show, where desserts made with hidden vegetables were offered, and in attending parent meetings to assist reception children in making the transition to full-time school.
Some 5,000 pupils have been engaged in healthy eating activities, including reducedsugar bake-offs and exotic fruit tastings.
Its success has been highlighted by the fact that 45,000 more meals were served in the spring term of 2019 than in the same period the previous year. Just as impressive is how increasingly engaged pupils have become with regards to healthy eating. For example, a partnership with Seafish UK has resulted in a shift in perceptions around fish, with 96% of children stating that they know about healthy eating and more than 80% now liking fish.
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
"The use of technology, the work towards sustainability and the way people communicate with the children makes HC3S a clear winner."
Jo Harley, managing director, Purple Cubed
"Great use of local and seasonal produce along with many innovative ideas."
David Steel, chef director, Bartlett Mitchell
"It is nice to see a local authority making waves."
Chris Mitchell, founder, the Genuine Dining Co
"HC3S has achieved some impressive contract wins and Soil Association accreditation."
Allan Heard, general manager, 30 Euston Square
Hampshire County Council Catering Services (HC3S)
2017 ISS Facility Services Education
2016 Murray Soper Bartlett Mitchell
2015 Emma Williams Green & Fortune
2014 Jamie Stevenson BaxterStorey
2013 Renier Oberholzer Harbour & Jones
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