It’s more than just the food for Chartwells

Childhood nutrition in the UK’s educational establishments is, and has always been, a hot topic, especially as we become more and more aware of both how to eat healthily and the benefits of doing so.

EP speaks to Meg Longworth, Head of Nutrition and Public Health at Chartwells, the specialist provider of catering to the education sector and part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, to talk through the focus for Chartwells.

“Our new programme, Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen, is all about providing a full range of health and wellbeing tools to the children we feed. While we can make sure our school meals are tasty and healthy, we recognised we could go further by providing educational pieces for not just healthy eating but also healthy and sustainable living.

The programme takes a holistic approach to nutrition, food and health education, separating health and wellbeing into three distinct priorities: Healthier Food, Healthier Lives and Healthier Futures.

Healthier Food takes a closer look at the use of fresh ingredients to create exciting and nutritious meals, while also focussing on the importance of encouraging young people to try global cuisines. Healthier Lives and Healthier Futures take participants outside the kitchen, demonstrating the positive impacts of a heathy lifestyle, a nourished mind and living in a sustainable way, covering topics from oral hygiene, exercise and environmental issues.

It is the latter two priorities – Healthier Lives and Healthier Futures – that are a new focus for us. We know as caterers we can provide healthy meals and nutritional education, but that only goes so far to offering children a complete health and wellbeing package.

The introduction of the new programme follows a six-month trial period, in which 2,000 people, across 19 participating schools and colleges.

Developed into six modules (two for each priority) and tailored to fit different age groups – Chartwells caters to primary schools through to third level institutions. The programme offers clients a range of educational tools which all offer different elements of the programme. Sessions can be delivered by Chartwells’ team of nutritionists, chefs and food ambassadors via face-to-face workshops, and are carried out either in one day or in drop-in sessions across the year.

Alternatively, clients can access an online suite of collateral packed full of information and advice such as lesson plans and video tutorials. The element of flexibility was always key for Chartwells as we wanted clients to be able to choose from a selection of modules and types of deliveries to create a bespoke offer. Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen was also designed in line with the national curriculum so builds in learning objectives across wider subjects such as personal social health education (PSHE), maths, geography and food tech.

The introduction of the new programme follows a six-month trial period, in which 2,000 people, across 19 participating schools and colleges. Following the success of the trial, and our ability to reach a wider range of children, teachers and families, Chartwells estimate we can reach a potential 500,000 individuals spanning school children, teachers and families in the new academic year. It’s a big challenge, but we take this responsibility seriously and we’re dedicated to making it happen.”