We move in to 2017 facing many challenges; the continued battle to ensure we retain Universal Infant Free School Meals, pressure on food prices particularly following the Brexit vote (and who knows what will happen once article 50 is triggered), ever tightening school and local authority budgets, increases in school attendance and the pressure it puts on the catering service and many more. During the year at our many events and through our magazines and media we will try and help and advise on many of these issues, so please do attend your local or national events and share what you have learnt with your colleagues so we can all benefit and support each other. A list of the annual planned events can be found here and you can read the latest School Caterer here.
My month from a LACA perspective has been reasonably quiet. On the 12th of January I and some LACA board colleagues met with our key suppliers to discuss our communication plans for the year. We work with 3 key suppliers, Dewberry Redpoint who manage our events and media, Oakhill Communications who look after PR, political lobbying and social media and Elygra Marketing who run National School Meals Week for us and our membership services. We had an incredibly productive meeting and will be making some changes that should bring a more ‘joined up’ approach to the way we communicate with members and beyond.
On the 17th of January I met Ian Mearns MP. Ian is a Governor at a school in Tyneside and showed exceptional knowledge of school meals and the catering service, he is also probably the most influential MP on the Shadow Education Select Committee, so a relationship we will continue to nurture.
My last venture out for LACA in January was to the Great Hospitality Show in Birmingham. Working with other areas of public sector and supported by the PS100 Group we put on a showcase of the exceptional cooking skills and talent that we should be so proud of across the sector. We had representation from Healthcare, Universities, Prisons, MoD, Care homes and even a demonstration of dysphagia food that wowed everyone.
Our own School Chef of the Year Kath Breckon working with a previous winner Sharon Armstrong represented LACA and as always she did a fantastic job, she is a credit to our industry and I’d like to thank her on behalf of all of LACA for the amazing work she has done through the year. She steps down on March the 2nd as we will announce our 2017 winner. All are welcome to join us at the awards dinner and the subsequent National Seminar, click here if you are interested.
Post the showcase, the chairs of the associations and I discussed the issues facing the public sector caterer on the business theatre. Both elements were a great success and we hope to do something similar at Hotelympia next year, the other chairs and I have also agreed to get together to discuss greater collaboration and support for each other, I’ll let you know more about how it went in my March diary.