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Highlights from LACA Autumn Seminar

LACA marathon National School Meals Week
Local schoolchildren joined marathon runner Karen Robinson on the last leg of her National School Meals Week run
22 Nov 2017
The finale of this year’s Autumn Seminar at Chesford Grange on November 17th, was the arrival of the runners completing the final leg of the National School Meals Week (NSMW) marathon

NSMW support team member Karen Robinson led home a group of schoolchildren and LACA members who joined her for the final run-in to complete her ‘five marathons in five days’ effort to promote school meals.

The group ran right into the seminar room and took to the stage, as delegates applauded their effort.

Karen told them: “I am just thankful for the chance to run every day as I love running.

“The highlight was to get involved in talking to kids about healthy eating and trying some great food over the week.

“Schools have been very enthusiastic and it has been great to see the children happy to join in, making banners and wanting to get involved - even high school children, and they don’t always want to exercise.”

It was announced that along the way the 'marathon' effort had raised £5,000 for LACA Chair Tim Blowers chosen charity the British Heart Foundation. This included £2,500 raised by current School Chef of the Year Tracy Healy at a series of events in Kirklees.

Nigel Argyle of Elygra Marketing Services described the many activities that had taken place during the week, including 62 leading venues such as The Ritz and Rick Stein’s restaurant that hosted school chefs.

The seminar kicked off with a look at the challenges of Brexit delivered by Dr Courtney Scott from the Food Foundation. She said the impact of Brexit-related food price increases was a concern, but added that there were opportunities to champion more British produce on menus.

LACA Chair Tim Blowers talked delegates through the association’s most recent research into UIFSM take-up. This was the result of figures from 22 local authorities responsible for 3,120 schools and serving 700,000 pupils a day.

The data showed a slight decline in take-up in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, partly explained by improvements in the way schools recorded the difference between UIFSM and free school meals (FSM).

He added that although the numbers showed a drop-off in meals taken after Key Stage 1, the level at Key Stage 2 was still much higher than it had been a few years ago.

Insight into multi academy trusts (MATs) was provided by Chris Jukes, primary executive leader at the Cam Academy Trust. He told delegates that caterers looking to work within MATs had to be ready to share the vision of the trust, listen to the client and be flexible in its approach to a trust’s different schools.

Julian Edwards, chair of the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI), and Helen Blunden, bursar at Wavell School in Farnborough completed the story of the refurbishment of the catering service at the school which they began at the 2016 LACA Autumn Seminar.

You can access the presentations of the seminar speakers by clicking on the links below: