Sodexo has announced it has welcomed Sharon Hodgson, the APPG chair for school food to sample its new Food & Co offering.
Hodgson visited Ridgeway Primary Academy in South Shields on 11 January, where she tasted the latest offering from the catering company. The new offering’s development was led by Sodexo’s marketing manager for schools Rosemary Molinari, and was created following 12 months of research, using market insights and rolled out to schools in January 2018.
Sodexo’s contract with Ridgeway Primary Academy began in September 2018, the new offering will use pupil-led insight and in July 2018 the team met with a group of children from years 5 and 6 to ask them to help design the dining hall for the new academic year.
The new menu will be regularly reviewed by a group of five children from years 5 and 6 who represent their fellow pupils and have become Sodexo’s Agents of Change. These agents will taste the new dishes, and gather feedback from their fellow pupils. They will then work with Paula Lumsden the school catering manager and her team to make sure the new menu meets their needs.
Sharon Hodgson MP, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the pupils at Ridgeway Primary Academy, together with the team at Sodexo they have created a vibrant school meal offer which the children love.
It is so important to engage children from a young age in the importance of eating a balanced meal every day, and Sodexo is doing this in an enjoyable and collaborative way with the school and the children.”
Food & Co was developed as a result of research with pupils from aged seven up to 16 years which sought to find out what food they like to eat, as well as why and how they want to eat it.
The research revealed that pupils have a more sophisticated palate than ever before, they have a strong understanding of restaurant brands and want to eat in a relaxed, informal environment that allows them time and space to connect with friends.
Director of Ridgeway Primary Academy, Michael McCarthy added: “It was great that the school’s leadership and pupils were able to have input into the new design for the dining hall and in what dishes are on the menu. This has certainly helped with school meal uptake. We needed to find ways to interest children more in their food and to involve them in decisions surrounding what they were eating.
“Sodexo’s innovative ‘Agents for Change’ approach has led us to redesign our dining hall in line with our pupils’ views and needs, and has helped us rethink the way that we provide nutritious and balanced meals.”