Waltham Forest serves nearly one million plant-based meals to 50 local schools every year through its daily plant-based options and weekly ‘Save the Planet’ days – where no meat dishes are served.
The London Borough of Waltham Forest has received the accolade of having the “greenest” school dinners in the UK.
The recognition comes from The Green School Menu League, which was launched earlier this year by Meatless Farm in collaboration with the UK’s youngest vegan chef Omari McQueen and non-profit ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme.
The initiative was created to find the UK’s greenest school menu to inspire, educate and encourage children to eat more sustainable food with a mission to make 15 million school meals meatless this year.
The catering company, owned by the council, serves nearly one million plant-based meals to 50 local schools every year through its daily plant-based options and weekly ‘Save the Planet’ days – where no meat dishes are served.
The menu curated by the company include dishes such as creamy coconut korma, butternut squash and chickpea tagine, Jamaican patties and planet friendly pizza.
11-year-old Flora Jacoby Richardson from Jenny Hammond Primary School – one of the schools serving Waltham Forest Catering’s winning menu – said: “It’s important we have a plant-based food choice each day that everyone can eat and enjoy. The food tastes good and has a lot less harm to nature.”
The winner was chosen based on ProVeg UK’s – an organisation aiming to halve meat consumption by 2040 – gold standard School Plates programme. The criteria is to award schools taking steps to more sustainable eating and approved by McQueen.
Waltham Forest Catering operations manager, Christine Cornall, said: “We are so pleased to be top of the Green School Menu League.
The whole catering team has worked so hard to ensure that the meals we provide to the children are more sustainable but equally nutritious. It’s been great to see how much fun the children have had with Save the Planet day. It’s a fantastic achievement for the 50 schools we serve within the borough.”
‘Every school menu should be like this one’
As part of the campaign, Meatless Farm also arranged a cooking masterclass by McQueen for students of Jenny Hammond Primary School.
The school will also receive a £5,000 investment towards its sustainable food programme and will have a plant-based workshop conducted later this year from non-profit ProVeg UK to develop its meals to keep sustainable eating a priority in the school canteens it serves.
13-year-old Omari McQueen said: “I think Save the Planet days are a great idea and it makes me happy to see that they have plant-based options on the menu every day to help make a difference to the world around us. Every school’s menu should be like this one.”
He urged other councils to follow Waltham Forest’s lead, saying a national target should be implemented for reducing the carbon footprint of school menus by 50% by 2025.
“Children in Waltham Forest have taste-tested the plant-based dishes on their menus and are inspiring more delicious sustainable meals. Every school menu should be like this one,” UK’s youngest award-winning vegan chef said.
‘Real climate leadership’
ProVeg UK director Jimmy Pierson added: “We’re incredibly impressed by Waltham Forest Catering, who are showing real climate leadership… knowing that it’s also healthier for children and can save them money.
“Young people care about climate change and the planet – more than any other generation – and we know from their feedback that they love the new plant-based meals.”
Caption: Waltham Forest schools offer the ‘greenest’ dinners in the UK.
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