School dinner staff serve up 23 million meals

They’ve been cooking schools meals for nearly 400 years and racked up nearly 23.3 million meals between them – so now it’s time to say thank you to staff who have been helping to make Havering school dinners what they are today.

To mark the 25th anniversary of National School Meals Week (Nov 12-16), Havering Council has given 13 of its longest serving dinner supervisors a chance to put their feet up and let someone serve them instead.

They were treated to afternoon tea to say thank you on behalf of the borough for their long service.

Andrew Blake-Herbert, Chief Executive of Havering Council, said:

“We have some amazing dinner supervisors who have shown pure dedication to our schools and the pupils they have served. They have seen some major changes over the years in the way school meals have been delivered and have adapted and helped us to create innovative and healthier dinners.”

At an afternoon tea at Langtons in Hornchurch, the ladies were each presented with a plaque to mark their achievement.

Carol Moran, who has worked at Newtons School, Rainham, for nearly 28 years, said:

“Dinners have changed so much. We use different ingredients from when I first started. It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle. It’s more challenging. You cook from scratch rather than frozen.”

Eileen Barrett, who has worked at St Ursula’s School, Harold Hill, for 43 years, said:

I just love the job and the school. I love everything about it. When I first started there was just one set meal but now there’s a variety.”

Denise Critchwell, who has worked at St Mary’s School, Hornchurch, for over 25 years, said:

“When I first started it was more or less the same every day and there was a lot of frying, but now the menus are more varied. Jamie Oliver made a very big impact.

“Children’s taste buds have changed over the years. So many younger children are going to nursery so their diet is more varied.

“It’s been amazing to see the children grow up and leave and then you end up serving their children.”

So what have been some of the favourites?

Spaghetti, shepherd’s pie, meat pie and cake, say the ladies.