Independent School Parent
Healthy Eating BEECHWOOD PARK
With an array of healthy themed meals, multicultural cuisine celebrations and allergen-conscious initiatives, this Hertfordshire prep instils nutritional knowledge in its pupils
Food is integral to Beechwood Park life, going beyond “just” an understanding of the importance of healthy, balanced food choices; it also includes the development of children’s palates, experiences and culinary lexicons.
Beechwood’s catering department, in keeping with the school’s mission to nurture, engage and inspire, provides pupils, staff and visitors with freshlyprepared, nutritious and creative dishes, ensuring everyone fuels their day well and develops lifelong positive eating habits. The team recharges around
700 pupils and staff every lunchtime, as well as providing copious boarders’ breakfasts and suppers. They extend pupils’ gastronomic understanding through engaging themed meals, experiences, tastings and quizzes, such as Meat Free Mondays, Healthy Eating Weeks and the recent allergen quiz.
Events celebrate food from different countries and cultures; through
Diwali and Caribbean lunches, South American taco evening, and Irish fare on St Patrick’s Day, children and staff are introduced to new flavours: the
Head Chef’s motto is “It’s fine not to like it, but you must try it first”.
Taste the Rainbow is a regular event, and the colourful displays of fruit and vegetables always prove popular with even the most discerning pupils – children sample exotic fruits such as kumquat, dragon fruit and star fruit, and an assortment of smoothies containing spinach and apple.
With 10 per cent of pupils presenting allergies, intolerances or preferences, it’s crucial that daily food choices encompass something suitable, and safe, for everyone. Beechwood and catering firm Holroyd Howe have worked together to devise a bespoke allergen policy, and their ‘wooden spoon process’ enables staff to quickly identify the children who need guidance and information about appropriate meal selection. Beechwood recently became the first Holroyd Howe school to be accredited by Coeliac UK for its gluten-free provision. Working with the charity and gaining their accreditation demonstrates the school’s commitment to its pupils and staff with coeliac disease, or gluten intolerance.
Talking about food and interacting with children is key in helping them learn about healthy eating; by talking and learning about food from the catering team, even the youngest pupils learn about making healthy choices, gaining independence as they do so. Interactive chef’s tables and hands-on demonstrations provide a powerful means to get children excited about where their food comes from and how it’s made – ask any pupil and they’ll tell you how much they enjoyed making pasta from scratch!
Equally important is learning about the provenance of food, and the implications of food waste. The nursery children have planted and harvested potatoes, reception has grown tomatoes, and the school gardening club was tasked with growing herbs to be used in the school kitchen. At the other end of the food “journey”, the school is working with Holroyd Howe’s Sustainability and Environmental Manager to develop innovative ways to reduce food waste.
Beechwood pupils have a voice that is listened to, and the food committee meets regularly with the catering manager to discuss initiatives and events, and to review the menus.
“We were thrilled to be named winners in this category,” says Head Ed Balfour. “We’re delighted that the hard work of our catering team throughout the year – meeting the constant challenge to come up with interesting, healthy and varied meals – has been recognised in this way.” beechwoodpark.com
“WE WERE THRILLED TO BE NAMED WINNERS IN THIS CATEGORY. We’re delighted that the hard work of our CATERING TEAM HAS BEEN RECOGNISED IN THIS WAY”