LACA’s NSMW announces dates & plans for 2017
LACA has announced the dates for this year’s National School Meals Week in England and Wales. Monday 13th to Friday 17th November is when the education catering industry will celebrate all that is great about school meals.
Historically NSMW has been scheduled for the first week in November, however in recent years the autumn half term has been something of a moveable feast within local authorities, with the dates differing between the end of October and the beginning of November. By moving NSMW to mid-November, it gives all schools across the country the opportunity to take part and get involved in the celebrations.
Once again there will be a number of high profile activities planned, with a mixture of political messaging and engagement with school caterers and pupils taking place. In the past four years the governments in Westminster and Cardiff have been served a selection of dishes from school menus to highlight not only the quality of the food, but the importance of children having a hot nutritious lunch. It has been instrumental in keeping school meals high on the political agenda and plans are in place to continue LACA’s presentations to government during NSMW 2017.
Many of the popular elements of the NSMW programme in recent years will be taking place again along with new activities that will offer opportunities for everyone to take part. They include: –
#cookeditmyselfie – introduced in 2016, this proved to be a great success with hundreds of entries. LACA asked for tweets showing the best examples of school meals and offered a prize of £500’s worth of marketing resources or equipment for the winning entrant. 2017 promises to be even bigger and better, with entry open to parents and pupils as well as school caterers. As a caterer, your chance to ‘show off’ is only a snap away and you don’t have to wait until November, send pictures on Twitter to @NSMW today (and as often as you want) using the hashtag #cookeditmyselfie.
Host a School Chef – now in its fourth year, this hugely popular programme is firmly established in the NSMW calendar. The initiative aims to give school chefs the opportunity to spend a day working in fine dining establishments alongside some of the most famous names in the world of haute cuisine. Through LACA’s NSMW we have placed over 150 school caterers in the kitchens of Michelin Star restaurants, 5* hotels, House of Commons and the Senedd restaurants, Premier League Football Clubs executive dining facilities and unusual venues across the country e.g. the restaurant at the summit of Snowdon. The Craft Guild of Chefs has once again pledged the support of its members, which is a terrific endorsement. We already have some fabulous venues signed up for 2017 including the 5* Chester Grosvenor Hotel, as well as Rick Stein’s restaurants.
New for 2017 – NSMW Daily Marathon – ‘Powered by School Food’ – Karen Robinson, a member of LACA’s NSMW team, will be running a marathon through LACA’s many regions supported by as many LACA members, school pupils and supporters as possible. The marathons will be fuelled by school food with press and PR opportunities being capitalised across the distance. We will be encouraging as many schools as possible en-route to encourage their children to run a ‘Daily Mile’ with LACA. The NSMW website will be tracking Karen’s progress and we will be sending live footage back to base each day so everyone can track the marathons. There is an added benefit in the run, insofar as we will be raising funds for the incoming LACA chair’s chosen charity The British Heart Foundation.
National Roast Dinner Day – The Soil Association’s Food For Life has supported NSMW in recent years and again is positioning its NRDD in the middle of the week’s activities. It is always a well-received event and many schools take the opportunity to invite their pupils’ family members into the dining rooms to see for themselves how good school food is.
Theme Days – always a big hit with the schools, with free to download resources from the NSMW website, everyone can be involved at no extra cost. We will have some new themes to go with the tried and trusted favourites e.g. Fish Friday, Under the Sea etc. and we will be repeating the two that were new for 2016 that ultimately were the most downloaded. They were the Spaghetti Challenge, where schools across England and Wales had to eat enough spaghetti combined to stretch from London to Rome and the Great School Bake-Off, which was a competition designed to get children enthused about baking. The students had to nominate their favourite cake or dessert; the only stipulation was that it had to contain some fruit. They would then all vote, using the downloadable voting forms and then make the top three selections using the school food recipes. It was a great success and very inclusive as all the students were involved along with the staff. Many schools contacted their local media to create even greater awareness.
Individual LACA regions plus schools, both local authority and free school/academies, will be organising their own local events as they have increasingly done over the years to make LACA’ NSMW 2017 the most successful yet.
In summary, another busy year of exciting events is coming together. We know many school caterers also ‘do their own thing’ so please let us know what you are up to. There are many ways to ‘Shout Out’ about what you are doing: