Frequently asked questions

Who decides what is on the menu and how do I know my child is eating a healthy meal?

A balanced and tasty menu incorporating both the nutritional and food group legislation laid down by The School Food Trust is sent to all Primary School kitchens from City Catering. This takes into account favourite dishes, season, dietary considerations and the introduction of new products. Your Catering Supervisor then has the responsibility to order, prepare and serve the dishes on the menu.

Where can I get a copy of the menus used in this school?

The menus used in Infant, Junior, Primary and Special Schools are available to all parents/guardians. Copies of the menu cycle are sent home with pupils at the beginning of each term.

Are children made to eat everything on their plate?

No. In Primary Schools, as the children take their lunch they will be encouraged to take a balanced meal. If a child says they don’t want, say, vegetables, they would be encouraged to try a few and then come back if they like them. Many of our staff are parents/grandparents too and know it’s important to encourage children to try new food. When the children sit down to eat, again they are encouraged by the school staff to eat their meal, but if a child doesn’t want something, then they would clearly not be forced to eat it. It is usually the case that the choices on offer will ensure the majority of children find something they like.

In our Cash Cafeteria Secondary Schools the customers can choose from the foods available which is then paid for. The customers are treated like the young adults they are and most choose food they know they will enjoy.

What happens if my child doesn’t like something?

We actively encourage children to try new foods, however our Catering Supervisors and kitchen staff know their customers well and try to treat all sensitively. Pleasing everyone is not always easy, but at City Catering we work very hard to maximise customer satisfaction.

Are salads and fresh fruit available?

A salad selection is available daily as an alternative to hot vegetables and fresh fruit is offered as an alternative to the hot/cold daily dessert.

Will someone tell me if my child is unhappy and/or not eating the meals?

It is difficult to answer this question with a definitive yes or no, but as many of our staff live in the local community they are encouraged to look after the wellbeing of their customers, your children. Therefore, if they are aware that a child is not really eating or enjoying their school meal this would be reported to the Head Teacher to inform parents/guardians. This is also something the Supervisory Assistants, employed by the school, are also encouraged to do.

Can I ask to speak to the Head of Kitchen?

Yes, but as the Catering Supervisor is very busy preparing lunch, it is better to make an appointment to see when is the best time to call in. City Catering welcomes feedback, both positive as this tells us what we are doing well and negative as this highlights areas in which we need to improve. Talking directly to your Catering Supervisor ensures we get that kind of feedback. Area Managers are also available via the City Catering office.

Does anyone check on what is being served?

Not only is what is being served checked, but so is everything else to do with the school meals service. Firstly, all City Catering staff are trained in food hygiene, and all supervisors have been suitably trained to carry out their duties. Each school enjoys the support of an Area Catering Manager and a Training & Development Manager who carry out regular visits and spot checks. City Catering also uses a formal auditing and monitoring tool to assess standards of compliance.

The Head Teacher monitors what is being served and our customers themselves are not shy in telling us if they are unhappy with anything they see. Other city council employees also visit school kitchens to ensure City Catering are maintaining a quality service and we also receive regular audit visits by Government Environmental Health Officers/Technician Officers.

City Catering’s commitment to providing a quality service means we are always looking for ways to improve the service we offer and we are confident that we do just that.

Do you serve Genetically Modified (GM) foods?

City Catering has a policy to remove all GM foods from service. City Catering always trys to act in the best interests of our customers and we fully support and endorse Southampton City Council’s policy of removing such foodstuff from School Meal menus. All new products are monitored for GM additives, salt and fat content before they can be added to our supplies contract. We also keep files on nut, gluten, egg and dairy products, to assist provision of meals to children with food allergies.

How often are chips and other fried foods on the menu?

In Primary Schools chips appear on the menu a maximum of once a week. All other protein and potato products are oven baked. In Secondary Schools we serve oven chips only very occasionally, thus no menu items are deep fried in Secondary Schools.

Can we just try school meals to see if my child likes them?

In most schools the Head Teacher will allow your child to have a trial period at school meals, be it a day or a week, but this really is down to the school’s own policy. Many of the menu items available in school are known to be popular and familiar with our customers as they are often used at home.