Parents Go Back to School for Lunch!

It is a truism that children will always complain about school food. However things have changes since the days of over-boiled meat, potatoes and vegetables from the last century, or turkey twizzlers of more recent times. Parents at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School decided to go back to school and try the food for themselves.

Parents were invited by the School’s Executive Chef Manager, Barny Cross to try the food that their children eat at the school every day. Mr Cross explains the initiative, “It takes a small army of chefs and kitchen staff to produce nutritious and delicious food for over 1000 children three times per day. We’re proud of the quality of the food we serve day in, day out. But we didn’t want parents to take our word for it. We asked parents to visit the dining hall during a typical lunchtime and taste for themselves what our school dinners are really like.”

Over the last few months, parents have been picking up a tray, queuing, and once again enjoying a typical school dinner. Mrs Marisa Stephens, parent of two pupils, agreed that school dinners are not what they once were, “What can I say…School dinners have definitely moved on from the spam fritters and lumpy mash of my day!”

The catering team try to create balanced menus with popular meals, such as fish and chips on Fridays and warming meat pies, combined with some more adventurous and exotic dishes to broaden pupils’ food horizons. There is Rendang Sapi, a West Sumatran beef curry; Opor Ayam, a Javenese chicken curry; Mukeca de Peixe, a spicy South American fish casserole; falafel enchiladas and field mushroom wellingtons. There are also the themed evenings that bring a taste of a chosen country to the school. Previous themed evenings have taken pupils to Morocco, China, Brazil, Portugal and the United States.  

“I think it is a foregone conclusion that kids will always like to complain about school food,” Mrs Stephens said, “but I can honestly say the meal we sampled, which was everything on offer from the soup to the salad bar, was excellent. The variety and presentation was really good, but I guess it is never going to be possible to please all the children all the time.”

Mr Cross said, “We have a Food Committee with pupil representatives from every boarding house to ensure that there is continual dialogue between pupils and the catering team. We are very open to suggestions and welcome their feedback, after all we want to ensure that pupils are happy with their meals. It is the case, however, that pupils continue to complain to their parents about school food. We wanted to reassure parents that we are making delicious, exciting food that meets health guidelines, and there is plenty for your child to choose from.”

Mrs Sonia Wing, parent of a Sixth Form student, attended one of the lunch sessions, “I can honestly say we were extremely impressed with the excellent food we sampled and the food choice available… I have given my feedback to my daughter and funny enough, I don’t think she will be complaining to me again.”

Other parents have been equally positive about the food after taking up the School’s invitation. Mrs Savita Toy, parent of two children at the School said, “I was really impressed not only by the thought put into the nutritional value of the food but also the delightful flavours. I was amazed at the variety of food on offer such that there must surely be something for every child to enjoy at meal times.”

Parents joining in at lunchtimes will be a regular occurrence. Every term, the School will be issuing invitations to all parents to come and join their child for a typical lunch and see how good school food really is. Gone are the days where parents didn’t know what their children were eating, now parents get to not only know but also try it.

30 November 2016

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