Cooking for more than 70,000 hungry mouths every school day, fresh food sourced from local producers is a passion for Hampshire County Council’s catering service HC3S.
They provide the catering for 96% of primary school meals in Hampshire, as well as some primary schools in Dorset, Wiltshire, Southampton and Portsmouth, and 21 secondary schools.
HC3S also run the catering operation for the cafes in Hampshire’s country parks, Sir Harold Hilliers Gardens, Hampshire’s outdoor centres, the discovery centres in Winchester and Basingstoke and they have just opened a new café in Fareham library.
Working closely with Hampshire County Council’s food buyers, they pride themselves on striving to source quality ingredients, produced or manufactured within Hampshire or the southern counties, keeping carbon footprint low and supporting the local economy.
HC3S’ Food Development Manager John, tells us more:
“Our main grocery supplier, based at Downton, just over the county border, works with us collecting the locally sourced products to distribute to our kitchens across Hampshire, Dorset and within Wiltshire itself.
“During the first three months of this year, we used 153,140 free range eggs. Hampshire was the first county council to receive the Good Egg Award from Compassion in World Farming for its efforts. The eggs are farmed to ‘Laid in Britain standards’ and predominantly sourced locally from Fordingbridge.
“Throughout all our kitchens, restaurants and cafes we sold 87,000 litres of Mr Whitehead’s apple juice. This supplier is based between Alton and Petersfield in Hampshire and the juice is retailed in recyclable bottles.
“Seventy per cent of the pork used in our sausages comes from Wiltshire, and these are manufactured by a local Hampshire based butcher for all our sites.”
Local food buying doesn’t end there, with yoghurt and cheese sourced from Somerset, Good Pig bacon and ham from Southern England, vegetarian products manufactured in Dorset and ice cream made in the New Forest! Fruit and vegetables when in season come from within or around Hampshire, areas of Dorset and Wiltshire.
The team works hard to produce innovative menus that children will like, while complying with School Food Regulations. As John explains “Primary school meals are very tightly controlled, in line with legislation, so that children have the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, sugar and fat in their diets. We believe that when it comes to a school lunch it is all about providing freshly prepared and cooked nutritious food combined with the children having an overall great experience.”
Once the menu is planned, testing starts to ensure staff in the kitchens have the menu to perfection before launching it in their schools.
With the new school year starting in September, it is important that all Year Reception children’s parents or guardians are aware that their child is entitled to a free school meal. This applies to Key Stage One children too. Schools will have information for all reception children to let parents know about their entitlement.
If your child has special dietary requirements and will need a special diet, please register your child for a special diet meal. We kindly ask that this registration is completed by 1 July to ensure we can work with you over the summer to plan their menu. More details can be found at www.hants.gov.uk/hc3s
For further advice e-mail the team at email@example.com and they will be more than happy to help or advise you.