Roast Dinner Day at Manchester Academy
As part of Cook and Share we celebrated Roast Dinner Day, sharing bespoke resources for caterers to celebrate too which included information, activities and promotional materials that any school caterer or kitchen can use.
Originally a way to showcase the fresh, seasonal veg that caterers across the UK are serving, any caterer can get involved in to profile their food, attract new diners and highlight their meals. Some schools invite parents to join them or have a family style meal where staff act as servers.
One caterer who got involved was Colin Port who heads up the catering provision at Manchester Academy. After reading about Roast Dinner Day online, Colin loved the idea and immediately started looking at how to celebrate it within his setting.
Always keen to engage the 1200 pupils he serves each day; Colin knows that a traditional British Roast is something they all enjoy. A roast is on the menu every Wednesday, but getting involved with Roast Dinner Day gave him and his team a fresh perspective and new tools to reach more students.
“Our kids are really savvy. They are up on their nutrition, and whilst a street-food-style offer or more grab-and-go options in school always gets them excited they all really look forward to a roast believe it or not.”
Of the 800 pupils who eat school meals at Manchester Academy each day, nearly 550 students qualify for Free School Meals which is 50.5% of total school population. Colin is all too aware that the meal he serves is often the only hot meal some students will eat that day.
“Roast Dinner Day ticks all the boxes, it’s a nutritious, balanced and filling meal so it is important to me to celebrate it. The kids also love knowing that they are eating a British tradition. A great many of our students are from a diverse background and they love the idea of eating something authentically British which might not be cooked at home.”
As well as managing the school meal provision, Colin is always keen to get stuck in and support the students’ food education and skills. He runs street food cookery clubs, involves the school food team in national campaigns like Black History Month, and is already looking forward to Cook and Share in 2024.
“I really like the idea of themed weeks and have been reading all the recipes and resources. I can use lots of these to put on some more cookery sessions with the students next year. Although we are contract caterers through Taylor Shaw, they give us the freedom to create a menu that caters for a diverse group of pupils. What works here in this part of Manchester might not work elsewhere.”
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