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Looking back on NSMW 2018

12 Dec 2018
It is incredible to think that LACA have been running National School Meals Week for 25 years but that being the case, it was important that 2018’s activities were worthy of this celebratory milestone, writes NSMW organiser Nigel Argyle.

Early in the year, a number of ideas were put to the LACA board for consideration and by March plans were progressing as to what the year would look like.

We were delighted that Kraft Heinz once again sponsored NSMW during this celebratory year and thank them for their support, energy and proactive involvement with all we do.

For some time now there has been a slight change in emphasis with regard to NSMW. Historically there used to be a number of themed days and fun activities, which took place during the week itself. Whilst there is a still a lot happening during the week, there are also many activities that take place throughout the year and are then celebrated during NSMW itself.

LACA encourages its members to promote great school food all year round to keep the conversation going and support #schoolmealsshoutout.

NSMW took place from 12-16 November and is a firm favourite in many school caterers’ promotional calendar, this year there were more events than ever for caterers to get involved with.

#cookeditmyselfie – the competition continues to grow in popularity. With three judges this year, two past winners, Tony and Emma and Lawrence from our sponsors Kraft Heinz, the competition was always going to be tough – as we go to print, a short list is being considered by the judges and the winner will be announced shortly. Thank you to everyone for your pictures, but don’t stop now. Keep posting on Twitter @NSMW #cookeditmyselfie.

Host a School Chef - LACA members are thoroughly embracing this activity where LACA are able to give school chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills in some of the best restaurants in the country.

We would like to thank our sponsors YPO for their support, all the school chefs who have taken the time to get involved and, of course, the hundreds of venues who have made their facilities available over the years. In 2018 almost 100 visits took place.

More information on Host a School Chef can be found on the website:

The Nation’s Favourite School Meal - With 2018 being a special year, LACA wanted to find out which school dishes have stood the test of time and what is the ‘Nation’s Favourite School Meal’.

On asking the question some 6 months ago, we heard from caterers, parents, pupils and schools, and from the initial responses created a list of the top ten ‘favourites’ against which we asked people to vote for theirs.

In September, LACA announced that the meal voted as the Nation’s Favourite School Meal was Curry.

It had to be said there was a great deal of competition from other popular meals such as Pasta based dishes, Roast Dinners, Fish and Chips and Homemade Pies, with favourite handheld and street food such as Pizzas and Wraps also proving popular.

With regards to the Nation’s Favourite School dessert, in the running from the top five were Fruit Crumble, Jam & Coconut Sponge, Cheesecake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but the overwhelming favourite was Chocolate Sponge with Custard.

LACA encouraged school caterers to serve the Nation’s Favourite as part of their NSMW celebrations, and many of you did. There are some great pictures on social media and many of you told us how many portions you served – to date we are running at 1.7 million…

A cake fit for a future king - Carrieanne Bishop, Past Chair of LACA and now owner of The Cake Room worked with LACA SCOTY finalists and winners to make an award-winning cake for Prince Charles 70th birthday which fell during NSMW.

The cake contained over 4kg of mixed fruit, and 5kg of both marzipan and icing. The front of the Cake was a replica of Clarence House with the back revealing a miniature school dining room, complete with all edible details, including food, plates and cutlery. Representing the staff who cook and serve in more than 22,000 schools across England and Wales, Carrieanne invited the SCOTY class of 2018 to visit her Bridgnorth studio and work on different stages of the cake.

Hundreds of hours were spent on the detail, and once complete it was clear that something special had been created. Carrieanne also took the creation to the Cake International competition held in Birmingham’s NEC where it won an incredible bronze – well done to all.

The team then delivered the cake to Clarence House for the Prince’s birthday, who asked that we delivered it to a local school – which we duly did. The pupils and staff were blown away.

LACA takes school meals back on the road - A highlight of NSMW 2018 was the ‘Powered by School Meals’ tour which kicked off on the Friday before in Denbighshire and carried on through the week ending at the LACA Autumn seminar at the Stratford Manor Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The ‘tour’ built on last year’s marathon event where we promoted the important links between school meals and energy. In 2018 we looked at what else school meals ‘power’ and took these important messages on the road - including Education, Concentration, Attainment, Energy and Nutrition.

You can see what happened on the tour by visiting the website and watching the video:

Serving school food at Westminster – It was the ideal way to conclude the Jubilee celebrations.

On Tuesday 20th November LACA returned to the Palace of Westminster to showcase school meals to MPs and Peers in Parliament.

Each time we go, more MPs attend, this time 44 Parliamentarians were in attendance, of particular note were the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Andrew Gwynne, and Shadow Education Minister, Mike Kane.

LACA thanks Sharon Hodgson MP and Dr Roberta Blackman Woods MP who enable this event to take place and the many suppliers and LACA supporters who helped make this event the success it was.

Stay connected - We all know the important part communication plays in the success of NSMW and this year we regularly updated members with what was happening and how you could get involved.

Well now we want to hear from you. This is your promotion so please let us know your likes and dislikes and what would YOU like to see in 2018. If there is anything specific that you want updating on or you have any suggestions or ideas please get in touch either by emailing us on or by telephone to NSMW HQ on 0333 005 0226 and one of the team will be happy to help.

What’s next - 2019 is LACA’s 30th Anniversary, so we will need to ensure LACA NSMW supports this milestone. Another exciting year ahead – look out for details, resources and news at