I’ve noticed a trend among the SBMs I talk to. There are many frustrations, disappointments and challenges of managing catering: there are still too many stories of food cooked off-site and shipped in; unskilled kitchen staff who can’t be managed out, and being held to ransom when catering companies hike prices without warning), ​

But I’ve never met an SBM who has bought catering in-house and regretted it.

The series of workshops we ran in summer 2012 with Yinka Ewuloa of Eagle Catering Solutions were eye-opening. Food has the power not just to nourish young brains and optimise afternoon learning, but to provide opportunities for curriculum: language students can enjoy food from around the world, and learn about the culture (as well as broaden their vocabulary!). Business students can run tuck shops…conducting market research, carrying out negotiations with suppliers, the issues of supply, pricing and customer satisfaction. There’s barely an area of curriculum that can’t be linked to food.

We’ve also met several schools who have turned catering from a cost, to a source of serious revenue. By taking ownership of the operation, they’ve managed to increase quality and reduce cost to pupils. Teachers are suddenly happy to eat in the school canteen. We even know of schools who have opened their dining room to the wider community of parents and business people…bringing not just valuable income, but the obvious advantages of better community links.

Every supports all SBMs in managing their catering, whichever solution is best for you and your pupils:

  • Our online guidance library offers top tips on your catering contract
  • Our suppliers module lets you search for the suppliers who other schools recommend
  • You can set ‘catering’ up as a category, so catering managers can view and action any issues, and you as SBM can have an overview that everything that’s supposed to be being done is being done
  • Or use the issues log to notify your outsourced caterer of any issues immediately with a full audit trail…keep your customers happy and your suppliers on their toes.
  • You can set up all your catering activities in your activities log…from daily cleans to deep cleans, shopping to defrosting of units. Keep your Food Safety Team happy with full audit trails.
  • Our RFQ tool lets you go out to market for that new range oven or set of dining room furniture: competing quotes to your desktop, anonymously

Outsourced vs in-house catering is a debate that will continue for schools. Every aims to make the day-to-day running of your school more efficient and more cost-effective, whatever you decide.