School meals and disability champion Arnold Fewell dies

Arnold Fewell, who came up with the original idea for National School Meals Week in 1993, has died. He was 67 and had been ill with cancer.

Karen Fewell, Arnold’s eldest daughter said: “As a family we are incredibly proud of all dad has achieved during his career and his passion and determination to improve services for disabled people has inspired so many. Throughout his illness, dad continued to work and has been so determined to make real changes in hospitality to improve experiences for others, despite his own health issues.”

LACA chair Michael Hales added: “LACA is saddened to hear of the passing of Arnold Fewell.  Arnold contributed a great deal to the school food industry, most notably by initiating National School Meals Week which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, leaving a lasting legacy of his commitment to children eating well in schools every day. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said: “In my time at The Caterer and Hospitality Action, I’ve been privileged to meet many admirable people. None have I admired more than my friend, Arnold Fewell.

“Arnold’s career in hospitality straddled hotel operations, school meals provision and marketing. Whatever his focus, he threw himself wholeheartedly into his work.”

After starting his career as a hotelier, he joined North Yorkshire County Council in 1985 as education catering manager, where his ideas drove a healthy eating campaign for schools that helped the authority save nearly £2m by increasing meal numbers from 20% to 60% of pupils on roll over a three year period.

The achievement later earned him a Catey Special Award in 2012, the same year he shared a Catey with LACA for his work through AVF Marketing in helping promote National School Meals Week in 2011.

The week-long national campaign that champions school meals had been an idea he came up with in 1993, when he helped organise activities and toured the UK with then-LACA chair Roger Davis to promote the event.

For many years, starting in 1994, he also helped contract catering giant Sodexo compile its annual school meals survey.

And in 2003, now a consultant running his own business AVF marketing, he created a new website – www.myschoollunch.co.uk – to provide local authorities with a platform to give more information to parents and promote healthy eating to pupils. It was an idea which immediately earned marketing awards from The Daily Telegraph and the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

He said: “As a catering consultant, I realised that many local authorities wanted to set up their own websites to put out information about food and eating at schools. The cost of doing it individually can be enormous.

“We designed a basic site that any number of local authorities can use and adapt to suit their needs. They can use the template to provide their own information.”

In 2004 the work was recognised with the Cost Sector Catering Marketing Award and the International Management Advisory Award from the Foodservice Consultants Society International. The site was also recommended in the Government’s blueprint for healthy schools.

In more recent years he turned his attention to disability rights. Following an accident in 2000, he had became a permanent wheelchair user and harnessed his experience to offer training and advice to make help businesses meet the needs of disabled customers.

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