Hampshire’s school meals are the cream of the cropHampshire County Council’s catering team ‘HC3S’ is ahead of the game when it comes to serving meals that meet the Department for Education’s new rules for healthy school dinners.

Lunches in Hampshire County Council schools both taste good and are nutritionally balanced thanks to HC3S, who have worked closely with schools, pupils and parents for over 20 years, to create menus that are varied and follow the guiding principles of healthy eating. The new school dinners menu, introduced after the Autumn half term already meets the new rules that come into force this week (w.c. 5 January 2015).

Furthermore, HC3S keeps to the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group’s recommendations to remove over 70 additives and colourings from that could affect children’s behaviour.

All HC3S school dinners are served with vegetables or salad, sourced from local south coast growers, and remain good value for money, with the price of a hot, two-course meal held at £2, by the County Council, for the sixth year in a row.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education at Hampshire County Council, said: “Enabling children to enjoy a nutritionally sound, hot school meal in the middle of the day plays an important role in their growth and can be the key to children maintaining a healthy weight role as well as being better prepared for the demands of the school day.”

Since the introduction of the initiative that offers a free school meal for all infant school children, the take up of school meals has risen by 20,000 meals a day with the number of hot school meals being delivered by HC3S at a record level of a million meals a month.

Councillor Edgar added: “In Hampshire, between schools and the County Council, we have coped well with the introduction of free school meals for children attending infant school. Staff in schools and across the County Council worked with contractors to pull out all the stops to ensure work to school kitchen facilities to increase capacity was completed on time – working late into the evenings where necessary.

“The staff at HC3S have been doing a fantastic job alongside our schools, to ensure all meals are dished up on time. To be delivering a million meals a month in 450 infant, junior and primary schools is no mean feat. It has been a huge undertaking, but one that we carefully planned for, acting swiftly to ensure schools were prepared.”

In 2014 HC3S received the ‘Good Pig’ award from Compassion in World Farming for the use of pork and pork products that meet strict animal welfare criteria. The accolade recognises HC3S’s commitment to ensuring they only purchase higher-welfare pork, exclusively using pigs that are reared in better living conditions so that they have a longer and healthier lifespan.

This is not the first time that HC3S has been recognised by Compassion in World Farming. In 2011, HC3S was awarded the ‘Good Chicken’ award, and in 2008 the service picked up a ‘Good Egg’ award, for its use of local free-range eggs in Hampshire school meals.

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