West Sussex school meals team serve up Catering Business of the Year award


Released: 5 August, 2022

The school meals team at West Sussex County Council has beaten multi-million-pound private caterers to win the Catering Business of the Year 2022 award.

The Council’s small team of around 45 Cook Supervisors, Catering Assistants and Officers fought off competition from other councils and private caterers with huge resources to scoop the top prize at the LACA Awards for Excellence.

LACA is the professional body for school meals across the UK and their annual awards, held on 7 July 2022 in Birmingham, celebrated individuals and teams who make a real difference to education catering and school food.

The Business of the Year is the premier award to win, examining innovation, management of the service, customer satisfaction, improving uptake and improving a healthy sustainable food offer, among other areas.

The judges praised the Council’s ability to grow its school meals service to meet the large increase in pupils with special educational needs, and for serving pupils with nutritious food while keeping costs low for schools.

West Sussex County Council’s professional team of caterers work mostly in 11 special schools – serving more than 200,000 meals a year to satisfied schoolchildren.

As well as taking home the main overall award, the Council’s Head of Catering John Figgins was shortlisted for an individual prize, along with Senior Catering Officer Helen Turner who was shortlisted in the category of Hero of the Year.

John said: “The award is deserved recognition for our frontline kitchen teams, as well as our support staff. Catering can be a challenging task, in hot and pressured environments, and something that can be taken for granted.

"Awards like these shine a light on a group of people that are so dedicated and hard-working, a team that have a ‘let’s get it done’ attitude, who just want to do the best by the children they feed in school. Of late especially working in very challenging financial circumstances, always finding solutions to keep the meals healthy and sustainable. I am incredibly proud of the team and I’m sure it will give everyone a boost after a couple of extremely challenging years.”

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