08 July 2011

Northamptonshire’s new hot meals service for schools has scooped the top national award for providing school meals.

Northamptonshire County Council’s Nourish team, which is responsible for the daily production of over 12,000 meals, picked up the Catering Business of the Year accolade at the Local Authority Caterers Association awards last night (THURS).

The £500 prize money will be donated to the Always a Chance foundation which was set up following the death earlier this year of James Kouzaris, a popular and key member of the team which set up the Nourish programme.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: “For a new business that’s only been operating since September, this is a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work and commitment that went into making sure children all over the county have access to affordable nutritional and tasty food at school.

“With the continued rollout of the programme, the service will soon be providing 25,000 meals a day. Since the start of the service last September we’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in the take-up of free school meals and we’re very proud that irrespective of whether the meals are free or paid for, our schoolchildren have at least one nutritionally-balanced hot meal a day.

“It’s touching that at this time of celebration, the team has chosen to pay tribute to their former colleague James by donating their prize winnings to the charity set up in his memory to prevent youth crime.”

Nourish is a schools collaboration which is managed and staffed by Northamptonshire County Council.

To provide the service, the council has successfully implemented the capital works and operation for 114 schools, with the rest of the 225 schools in the programme coming onboard from this September and throughout the year.

The aim of the project is to ensure sustainable high quality hot food and value for money is provided for all pupils in all schools across the county.

The hot meals plan came about thanks to a government grant of £8.5million, the largest awarded to any county, which has been matchfunded by participating schools.

Additional information:

For more information about the Always a Change charity, please visit http://www.alwaysachance.org.uk/about.html

The Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) is the leading professional body representing 750 catering managers in local authorities, private contractors and individual schools who are providers of school meals services within primary and secondary schools in England, Wales and Scotland.