Sharon Hodgson with pupils at Ridgeway Academy Primary
MP visits local primary school to sample Sodexo school food
16/01/2019 - 06:00
Sharon Hodgson - chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for school food, and MP for Washington and Sunderland West - visited a local primary school this month to sample Sodexo’s new school meals offer.

Based on pupil-led insight and market research, hospitality provider Sodexo’s ‘Food & Co’ range claims to be a ‘new approach’ to school catering, which

Hodgson saw first hand at Ridgeway Primary Academy (South Shields) when she visited last week (11 January).

Having started its contract with Ridgeway in September, Sodexo met with pupils aged 9-11 beforehand, to ask for their help in designing the dining hall for the new academic year.

They also have huge say in the school’s menu, with five pupils - Sodexo’s ‘Agents of Change’ – regularly reviewing mew meals on behalf of fellow pupils.

This involves tasting dishes and gathering feedback from students, as well as helping the school’s catering manager to ensure new menus meet their requirements. They also learn what goes on in the kitchen, in creating and preparing the meals.

Hodgson said:It was a pleasure to meet the pupils at Ridgeway Primary Academy. Together with the team at Sodexo, they have created a vibrant school meal offer that the children love.

“It is so important to engage children from a young age in the importance of eating a balanced meal every day. Sodexo is doing this in an enjoyable and collaborative way with the school and children.”

Director of Ridgeway Primary Academy, Michael McCarthy, added: “It was great that the school’s leadership and pupils were able to have input into what dishes are on the menu. This has certainly helped with school meal uptake.

“We needed to find ways to interest children more in their food and to involve them in decisions surrounding what they were eating.

“Sodexo’s innovative ‘Agents for Change’ approach has led us to redesign our dining hall in line with our pupils’ views and needs, and helped us rethink the way that we provide nutritious and balanced meals.”

Led by Rosemary Molinari, Sodexo’s marketing manager for schools, ‘Food & Co’ was launched following research the company undertook on schoolchildren aged 7-17, which sought to find out what food they like to eat, why and how they want to eat it. 

Proving that pupils have a ‘more sophisticated palate than ever,’ they also showed a strong liking for eating in a relaxed, informal environment that allows them time and space to connect with friends. 

As such, Food & Co offers a four-week menu cycle using ‘Five Foodie Days’ based on the following:

  • Planet Earth Day: plant-based foods to encourage pupils to try interesting vegetables
  • Street Food Day: inspired by high-street trends and served in hot-boxes to create a more grown-up dining experience
  • World Food Day: exploring new foods and tastes from across the globe
  • Originals Day: classic and familiar dishes that pupils love
  • Favourite Friday: popular foods for the end of the week

Matt Garner, managing director for government schools at Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “We are thrilled to have been able to show Sharon Hodgson our new offer at Ridgeway. 

“The pupils and the team have been fantastic and really helped us create a school dining service that is appealing and fun, and we look forward to continuing to work with the school and its Agents.”