Written by Hanyuan Cen and Jacopo Zipoli, two food citizens and students at Lancaster University

Lancashire Catering Service (LCS) is a local authority service that aims to “feed the future of Lancashire”. In other words, the food procurement team focuses on the well-being of local young people and enjoys feeding 65,000 pupils each day.

LCS operates Lancashire wide; serving meals to primary and secondary schools as well as care homes since 2000.

Apart from its core business of meal deliveries, the team offers other foodie activities that include school trips, open days, and school clubs. These activities can include a visit to LCS’s cheese supplier, who has a viewing gallery that allows children to see the whole production process.

Keeping it local

Years of experience have supported LCS in developing an awareness of food sustainability which has led to a ‘locality strategy’ that also addresses health concerns.

By focusing on locality it seeks to develop a food supply chain that connects with food growers and producers in the Lancaster District and its surroundings. In doing so it aims to reduce food delivery costs as well as food miles, which also offers fresher food. In practice, LCS has managed to create a Lancashire network that allows its catering team to purchase a range of food from local suppliers– making it easier to monitor production processes whilst building links between the school meal system and local food supply chain.

In recognition of this work, in 2018 LCS achieved a Silver Food for Life Catering Mark. This standard, which requires food to be both locally sourced and environmentally friendly, was said to cover 1,128,790 meals served annually in 51 Lancaster primary schools and 117,610 served annually in two Lancaster secondary schools*. This also equated to over 16,836 meals served in three care homes in Lancaster.

More than 80% of LCS’s food is fresh and cooked on site, with food menus meeting the UK government’s food standards for schools. In total, 100% of LCS’s suppliers are locally based, and 75% of its food producers are from the UK.

The LCS team remains committed to meeting these silver standards whilst continuing to strengthen its local food network.

* This data was based on the 2017-18 academic year.

Food For Life in schools

The Food For Life Silver award recognises places that serve meals with proper crockery, as opposed to plastic ‘flight trays’. The standard requires schools to serve food that is healthy, ethical and uses some local and organic ingredients (a minimum of 5% organic ingredients used in menus). They should also have a cooking club where pupils get to cook and eat produce grown in school at least once a term and the school should be involving parents and the wider community in food education via food-themed events.

Keeping it healthy

As obesity and other chronic diseases have become a global concern, people’s awareness of healthy eating and nutritional intake has also grown. To ensure the well-being of school children, LCS offers meals that contain less salt, sugar, or fat. In addition, Lancashire suppliers are encouraged to produce food that meets these healthier standards.

LCS has built relationships with local suppliers across Lancashire that offer healthy and fresh food. According to Ralph Livesey, the major distribution hub that supports LCS’s local purchases, a wide range of fresh products is able to be delivered into the school kitchen system.


Collaborative networks

In terms of its catering service, Nigel Craine, head of the LCS team commented:

“Districts are often well placed to meet the need. Networking that links food growers and producers through distribution hubs, is probably the best opportunity for them to get into playing a larger role and being able to increase their outputs.”

These collaborative networks are of increasing importance when faced with increasing challenges for local farmers such as climate change, Brexit and related trade negotiations.

Further Information

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