Cheshire East Borough Council

Increasing School Meals Uptake in Cheshire East

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/ service

In summary, the business improvement process has been significantly applied through the Schools Catering Service and has highlighted the effectiveness of multi-agency working and the positive engagement of schools in the pilot to addressing the quality and education of food intake at lunchtimes.

An 18-month study into school mealtimes resulted in some innovative and engaging initiatives to promote healthy eating amongst the young residents of Cheshire East.

The project utilised Specific data and intelligence :
(Extract from Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Cheshire East:)

• 1 in 5 pre-school age children in Cheshire East are either overweight or obese. Crewe and Nantwich have the highest prevalence of obesity (19% and 18% respectively).
• 22.2% of our children in Cheshire East have had experience of tooth decay
• 19.6% of our children have active decay
• 7.1% of our children have teeth decayed into pulp
• Over a quarter (25.9%) of all children and young people aged between 2-15 in Cheshire East Borough are either overweight or obese. 7,700 children are obese, with a further 7,300 classed as overweight.

Why do you think it should win this award?

Healthy children are happy children and the most effective learners. Good nutrition is vital for their health & wellbeing. For some children a school meal may be their only meal that day. Our Catering service makes this meal nutritious and an enjoyable experience, encouraging knife and fork skills and promoting a social eating atmosphere that our children may not experience outside of school. We were therefore keen that as many children as possible are having these meals. Where they bring their own packed lunch they are still eating it in a safe and social environment.
The business improvement review was commissioned. Working with colleagues in Data and Intelligence, we identified areas of deprivation, low school meal uptake and where obesity has a higher prevalence.
We demonstrated collaborative working and information sharing across Cheshire East to benefit children with the aim of increasing school meal uptake, contributing to healthier lives by reducing obesity and dental health issues. The business improvement process has been applied across the Schools Catering Service and highlighted the effectiveness of multi-agency working, the positive engagement of schools in the pilot and education of food intake at lunchtimes.

What are the key achievements?

• Created tools & materials to support healthy eating in schools as a concept to increase uptake to nearer 100%
• Developed a model with Public Health to identify schools with low school meal uptake in areas of deprivation
• Made lunchtime an enjoyable & social learning environment for children to share with adults & friends
• Provided children with opportunities to try new foods
• Produced a training & information DVD to promote good practice amongst schools at lunchtime
• New starter events providing tasters and information
• Identified children with decayed teeth for further partnership working
• Introduced Public Health England Campaigns such as Change4Life Smart Swaps & promoted the sugar app tool
• Developed fun & informative leaflets & distributed to Cheshire East schools, raising awareness of sugar content in food & drink, promoting the Eat Well plate & tips on healthy eating
• Staff drop-ins held to raise awareness of access to school meals
• Linked with Partners including One You Campaign and Feeding Britain
• Baselined current provision of Breakfast & Holiday Hunger Clubs for future funding opportunities
• KS1 bringing own packed lunchboxes receive chopped fruit and drinks
• Reduced food waste to below 25%

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