Wandsworth school meals awarded the gold standard

Published: 14 July 2015

Children who eat school dinners in Wandsworth are enjoying some of the best quality meals in the country according to a leading food safety watchdog.

The company that provides the meals at 58 of the borough’s schools has been awarded a prestigious Gold Food for Life Catering Mark by the Soil Association.

The gold catering mark presented to catering firm Edwards & Ward is the award scheme’s highest accolade.

To win one, school meal providers must offer high quality fresh food, free from harmful additives. It must be sustainable, healthy, nutritious and be produced ethically, observing high standards of animal welfare  and also be locally produced.

A high proportion of the ingredients must be organic or free range, purchased from fairtrade sources and should not include fish on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) list of endangered species.

The use of salt must be kept to a minimum and more than 50 per cent of bread offered to the children must be wholemeal. Meals must be freshly prepared and not contain hydrogenated fats. Eggs should be free range and not from caged hens.

Extra points towards a gold award are awarded for meat free days, for reducing plate waste and if fresh fruit is offered as a cheaper option to other desserts.   

The awards were presented this week at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London, and celebrated the achievements of “caterers who are transforming food service, providing more fresh, nutritious, environmentally sustainable, British, quality meals in nurseries, schools, care homes, hospitals, universities, workplaces and many visitor attractions”.

Prue Leith, the well-known writer and food critic presented the awards, saying: “The Catering Mark Awards are the real deal. Achieving the Food for Life Catering Mark is no mean feat and it is respected in the industry because it cannot be bought; it is awarded on the facts.”

Rich Watts, senior Catering Mark manager added: “From chefs to managers to buyers, the passion and dedication to improving the quality of food served outside of the home was clear. It takes real commitment to achieve change and the Catering Mark Awards are a wonderful celebration to recognise the people and the hard work behind making these changes possible.”

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for schools and education Kathy Tracey said: “I’m delighted that our contractor Edwards & Ward has been awarded this prestigious gold catering mark. They put a huge amount of thought and effort into producing really top quality affordable meals at our schools and it is fantastic that this has been recognised in these prestigious awards.

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today it is the UK's leading campaign body for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. For more information about its work visit http://www.soilassociation.org/