Children give Chartwells the Thumbs Up!

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Chartwells, the leading provider of catering and support services to schools in the UK, has been trialling meals from its new menu with the most discerning customers of all…. the children they serve!

Chartwells has asked over 4,000 primary school pupils and their parents what they wanted to see on the menus, as well as what vegetables they enjoyed most, what was important to them about lunchtimes and how often children wanted to see change in the meals served. The team then went onto taste test some of the recipes with over 1,000 children, until the meals received a resounding ‘Thumbs Up!’

Schools ready for new menu launch

Chartwells will be introducing the reworked recipes over the next few months, rolling them out to schools across the UK. The menus have been designed by Chartwells’ chefs and in partnership with CBBC Chef and Leon Founder Allegra McEvedy MBE. Together they have kept nutrition and great taste at its core, to create meals that are super delicious and super yummy.  

The research highlighted that children do enjoy consistency, but that there is an opportunity for them to try new things on occasion. With this in mind Chartwells has created a core menu, alongside themed dishes outside of this offer. Meals will contain only the top six vegetables, to ensure that they actually get eaten to maximise nutrition and reduce waste. The data also showed some regional preferences, which are reflected within the relaunched concepts with some dishes available to specific areas.

Our new food education programme

Chartwells has also been working to launch its virtual ‘Beyond The Chartwells Kitchen’ programme, which tackles issues like childhood obesity and raises awareness of mental health issues. The new resources take the current restrictions into account and offer practical learning via The Super Yummy Kitchen YouTube channel, which children and families can utilise at home or within schools as cook along videos; plus interactive sessions with nutritionists and chefs, webinars, as well as access to printable and online materials.  

Meg Longworth, Director of Nutrition and Sustainability, Chartwells commented: “Our approach is to keep the children at the heart of everything we do and our Thumbs Up campaign has given us confirmation of what they want to eat at school. This means they’ll be heading back to lessons after lunch with full stomachs and getting the nourishment they need. We know this supports mental wellbeing and academic achievement, so it’s really important we’re maximising the opportunity for children to get the most out of their meal.” 

Allegra adds: “For schoolchildren lunch should be the highlight of their day: a chance to hang out and chat with their friends, relax, eat something yummy and fuel up for the afternoon. I’m really proud to have been working with Chartwells to make sure the children we feed have the best lunchtimes ever, whilst also giving their bodies and brains everything they need to power through the rest of the school day.”