Christmas is coming…

Deborah Homshaw, managing director of CH&CO Independent, reflects on a year that went beyond the plate

We’re rolling towards Christmas at an ever-increasing speed and we can feel the excitement brewing among the children in our schools. But as we look forward to all the sparkle, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year.

We’ve stormed through 2019 at such a pace, I’m left breathless and on the odd occasion speechless – which, for those of you who know me, is not a frequent occurrence! It’s the team around me and the children themselves, with their imagination, enthusiasm and dedication to the task in hand, that sometimes bring me to a complete standstill. Our team’s love for food and desire to engage with students of all ages and, in turn, the keenness and energy of students to learn about what they’re eating is staggering. It’s something we must nurture and build upon.

We’re in a privileged position to positively influence the future eating habits of our children. And, with this comes huge responsibility. A responsibility to create lifelong positive relationships with food that fuel physical, mental and social wellbeing; 2019 has certainly gone beyond the plate in our commitment to this very important vision.

Food is what we do. Our chefs and nutritionists create delicious and intrinsically nutritious menus for pupils to enjoy – that’s a given. But, if we just stop there, aren’t we doing our children and future generations an injustice?

Igniting their interest in where food comes from and how food choices impact their bodies, academic and physical performance, emotions and the planet, empowers them to embrace the many benefits food provides. And, dare I say, start reversing the negative responses society (in my opinion) has unwittingly created around food.

This is exactly what our Good Food Works campaign sets out to do. Good Food Works was introduced in the 2018–19 academic year, and by popular demand, phase two returned with a vengeance in September.

The series of weekly eye-catching, interactive engagement events underpins our ethos and has inspired interesting and relevant conversations about food up and down the country, with a fantastic 99% of our clients championing the movement.

Its magic and upbeat style resonates with the Instagram generation and gets them thinking about food’s many dimensions – from where it comes from, more unusual produce and the science behind creating food, to global flavours and influences and nutrient benefits.

This important engagement and education continues outside of the dining room into food debates, assemblies and forums across all our schools.

Topics range from the importance of hydration when exercising and studying (it can help improve a grade by a whole level!) to the ‘five a day’ message for younger children. Sustainability is a constant Good Food Works theme. From eating seasonal foods and increasing the number of plants in our diet to joining the global war on single-use plastics. We’ve seen how motivated and passionate young people are about saving our planet so we’re giving them the information and knowledge to help make responsible, informed choices.

2019 has been wonderful and we have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve not even begun to talk about the interactive masterclasses, pop-ups, client roadshows, bespoke CH&CO Independent food truck, parent engagement and special events that we’ve successfully delivered in our mission to inspire a lifelong love of food in our children.

As we rush into the new roaring ’20s, what will the future bring? In the short-term, stunning sustainability trees will be making appearances in schools very soon. And, looking further ahead, we want to integrate food more with the curriculum. Food is integral in our lives and we’re making it more relevant in everyday learning – it’s a very exciting initiative.

We love what we do, so I predict more fun and laughs, and even more happy, fulfilled students. And, as advent moves ever closer, we’ve a few festive surprises and delicious treats for all our customers.

Season’s greetings to you all!


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