New contract on the table for children’s meals

Merton Council’s Cabinet has agreed to award the contract to provide school meals for Merton’s primary and special schools to Caterhouse Limited from September.

School meals have been on top of the nation’s agenda following Jamie Oliver’s campaign to improve school dinners. Merton Council has made tremendous strides in refurbishing and extending school kitchens to enable fresh cooking on site and a Healthy Merton menu was introduced to all primary and special schools in September 2006 following a successful pilot.

The new contract places a strong emphasis on good quality, nutritious meals cooked from fresh ingredients on site. It is therefore an important part of Merton’s strategy to further improve school meals following extensive consultation with the School Meals Development Group, which includes representatives from Merton primary and special schools, the Primary Care Trust and Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools (MPFBFIS).

Councillor Oonagh Moulton, Cabinet Member for School Standards and Youth Engagement said:
‘I am delighted to announce the award of this contract to Caterhouse which will lead to further improvements in school meals. Merton Council has put a lot of hard work into improving school meals by refurbishing kitchens and providing better menus and an emphasis on using fresh ingredients. This is the culmination of a partnership effort and we are very grateful for the input from children, parents, head teachers, council officers and Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools.’

Tom Seery, Managing Director of ISS Caterhouse said: ‘We are very proud to be awarded this important contract. Our menus and recipes are nutritionally analysed to meet the Caroline Walker Trust’s standards through our NUTMEG Nutritional Analysis Computerised database programme. Our proposed menus are verified via our dedicated Consultant Dietician. We intend to consult and work with the Council’s responsible officers, parents, head teachers and governors to improve the quality of schools meals in Merton and look forward to an exciting future.’

Jackie Schneider, Chair of Merton Parents for Better Food in School said:
‘We are delighted to welcome Caterhouse who are passionate about preparing tasty and nutritious food for pupils, staff and visitors. We appreciate that it is a tough job but their commitment to cooking from scratch using fresh, good quality ingredients and their willingness to train and look after their staff should mean a radically improved service. In September we will be urging parents to make an appointment at thei