Cold Aston Primary School raised funds to build their own teaching kitchen.  Daylesford Foundation were proud to support this effort and Alexandra Symondson, Head Teacher, describes its successes:

Prior to the new kitchen the school was only able to serve hot lunches twice a week.  These were cooked by an outside caterer, off site at another school, and brought to us in hot boxes.  The service could not be sustained and was costing £3.50, which was too much for some families, so the supply of hot meals ended.  Our families were very disappointed so we knew we had to offer the service in some other way. Parents were telling me that they would wish the service to be more than twice a week and at a more reasonable price.

With the help of the Daylesford Foundation, our wonderful kitchen facilities now allow us to cook on-site fresh meals daily. The children are able to order each morning and chose from three meal options, served with freshly baked bread and pudding.  We now serve between 45 – 60 meals a day, equating to 60 – 80% uptake, which is much higher than most schools.  The cost of a meal is a very reasonable £2.15 and we commit to using locally sourced, organic and free range products where possible.

The hot lunches have had a real impact on the children’s learning in the afternoons. They concentrate better and have more energy. Parents report that their children are now eating a wider variety of food at school and often at home, and it has improved their manners and use of cutlery.  We often do themed days too, adapting the regular menu to encourage children to join us for a hot lunch, for example Red Nose Day and Easter lunch. Parents have also joined us on occasion for special lunches.

All the children have at least one term of cooking lessons in the kitchen per academic year, learning a variety of recipes from cupcakes to soup. The children learn about balanced diets and teachers also use the kitchen to fit in with other curriculum activities.  We are also very lucky to have a wonderful allotment adjacent to school. The children learn how to care for the soil, plants and harvest across the year.  Where possible they use what is grown in their cookery lessons, for example making a salad from home grown potatoes.  We are really lucky to have a lot of supportive parents at Cold Aston and several farming families. The children are often invited on local farms to see the changes throughout the seasons, including a trip to see how farmed fruit is made into juice.