Ashlyns Catering Partnership
In September 2011, Ashlyns and William Westley CE Primary School embarked on a mission to transform the meals being served at lunchtime.
Ashlyns were already working with a number of other schools in London and Essex with unparalleled success, so the decision to work together was a natural and easy process to undertake. Ashlyns is a family company based in West Essex. They have their own organic farm, farm shop, restaurant, training kitchen and many more initiatives. They have been supporting schools to help improve their school meal provision for some years now and felt that there was an opportunity to enhance the offering by creating a working partnership with each school.
The changes that we have made are significant but were easily introduced.
See their website for more information here.
We now source all of the ingredients through a farmer co-operative that Ashlyns helped set up. Although Ashlyns has an organic farm it is impossible to use all organic produce in a school meal budget. This is why the co-operative was set up to source local produce to supply to the Ashlyns schools. The only organic ingredients used are milk and yoghurts and occasionally some vegetables when the price is cheap enough. The eggs are all free range and the meat, vegetables and seasonal fruit are all from local farmers where possible. The burgers and sausages are all made on the farm so that we know what goes into them.
All of the food is cooked from scratch using raw ingredients. The only items that are bought in are the fish pieces. Even the bread is made fresh on site every day.
Ashlyns have recently been awarded the Soil Association’s bronze Food for Life Catering Mark for serving fresh and healthy meals. The Catering Mark is a unique scheme which recognises restaurants and caterers who serve fresh food which is free from controversial additives and better for animal welfare. More and more, people want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced. The Food for Life Catering Mark offers a guarantee that fresh food you can trust is always on the menu.
The catering team have all received the necessary support and training to help them prepare the meals to the standard that Ashlyns demand. There is a lot of hard work that goes into producing quality meals and the catering team are now seeing the fruits from their labour by having very satisfied customers.
“The Can Cook Will Cook” project has been developed by Ashlyns with funding awarded from the family learning programme of the Big Lottery Fund( BIG) and in partnership with the Rural Community Council of Essex ( RCCE) The project was funded from June 2009 until June 2013.
“Can Cook Will Cook” is a FREE one day course aimed at helping families, supporting them in gaining skills in cooking and healthy eating. The project will benefit children aged from 8-16 along with their parent, grandparent or carer and teenage parents. These courses are delivered in Ashlyns fully equipped training kitchen by a qualified chef. The day focuses on fun activities whilst teaching essential life skills such as cooking, nutrition and budgeting. Working in pairs, you will learn delicious, simple low budget recipes that will give you the confidence to recreate them at home together, for all the family to share. http://www.ashlyns.co.uk/can-cook-will-cook