School caterers, ISS Facility Services Education, have teamed up with charities Focus on Food and School Food Matters to bring the joys of cooking to school pupils, cooks and teachers across the London Borough of Redbridge.
Focus on Food is a charity that supports people to develop skills for healthier futures. Their impressive Cooking Buses – state-of-the-art travelling kitchen classrooms – visit schools and come with a specialist team of people to train teachers and teach children essential cooking skills.
On Monday 6th July, the Cooking Bus arrived at Cranbrook Primary School, marking the start of a week-long series of cooking events for schools in the Borough. Eighteen schools took part in sessions which were carefully structured to engage with everyone involved in promoting school food culture; from our own talented school cooks (ISS Education employees) to teaching staff and pupils.
The visit, funded by ISS Education and administered by London based charity, School Food Matters, is an initiative designed to help local people, particularly children, learn more about food preparation and cooking.
As well as getting kids cooking first hand, the Cooking Bus visits are also designed to provide adults with the skills and knowledge required to teach pupils about food. On Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th of July, eleven ISS Education school cooks took part in sessions which gave them the skills required to set up and run afterschool cooking clubs in their schools.
Teaching staff were also invited aboard; several teachers, who run cooking or after school clubs joined the fun, eager to pick up useful tips to take back to their classrooms to enable them to deliver on the Government’s direction for schools to increase cooking in the curriculum . As well as technical, skill-based support – such as preparing ingredients – the Cooking Bus team also shared tips on engagement and suggestions on how to better manage groups of children when providing learning in a kitchen environment.
Lynda Townend, ISS Education’s Operation’s Manager in Redbridge, said:
“We were delighted to have the Cooking Bus in Redbridge this week. It has been a fantastic experience for us and our cooks and we really hope that the pupils and teachers who joined us during the Bus’s visit thought so too. The sessions were incredibly insightful and were delivered in a very engaging and inspiring way. The excitement evident throughout the visits is extremely encouraging and wonderful to see. I’m eager to see how our cooks and the pupils take forward what they’ve learned and hope that it will play some part in continuing to improve food culture in schools.”
ISS Education and School Food Matters already work together in Redbridge to deliver gardening grants. ISS Education has offered each school a sum of £250 per year over the next two years to spend on gardening equipment to teach children the joys of gardening. In April 2015 TV gardener Chris Collins visited Grove Primary School and Redbridge Primary School to deliver specialist gardening training for teachers across the Borough.
The school caterers intend to continue the momentum around food education established by the Cooking Bus visit with a follow up FEED event – Food Education Event Day. On July 14th this year Mayespark Primary School will host a day of fun around food, organised by ISS Education. Pupils and teachers, along with ISS food suppliers, Garden Organic and members of the Borough’s Public Health, Children’s Centres and Culture and Leisure Departments will be on hand to provide pupils and parents with information to improve their health and wellbeing. The event will be the first of its kind for ISS Education, who plan to conduct further FEED days in the future.
Following the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark achieved by ISS Education for all of the schools it serves in Redbridge, the Cooking Bus, gardening and FEED events all represent further steps in ISS Education’s desire to create a great food culture in the schools it caters for.