Going for Gold

More than anything else, the Cucina brand is about refusing to compromise on the quality and range of the food we serve. We make a heavy investment in this commitment, relying on strong sales to bring us the profitability we need to grow as a company. The strong growth we achieve year on year is testament to how well we are succeeding in this vision.

Our school chefs do so much more than cook and serve food. They work to encourage the growing of food on site, to provide attractive dining environments, to organise visits to farms and recycling centres, to create school foodie groups and act as an educational resource for their schools in a wide variety of ways. So it makes sense for us to mark this formally in some of our contracts, with Food For Life Partnership Gold Awards.

Achievement of this standard can only come about through close collaboration between a caterer and its partner school. School Senior Management Teams have so much on their agendas these days and so not all schools will have food as a top priority. This is perfectly understandable. But to gain the Bronze, Silver or Gold Catering Mark, food must be right at the top of the educational agenda.

To apply for Gold or Silver, caterers must have already achieved the Bronze standard, demonstrating in the process that at least 75% of meals are prepared from unprocessed ingredients and that meat is from farms which meet UK welfare standards. Among other requirements, eggs must be from cage-free hens and menus must be seasonal and free from GM ingredients. Fish must not be from the MCS ‘fish to avoid’ list and information about food provenance must be on clear display.

Assessors for the Silver and Gold Standards use a points system. We are now working hard with two of our partner schools to achieve this Gold Award status. Caterers score points in three sections. Section one is to do with percentage spend on ethical food and locally sourced ingredients. Points are awarded for organic ingredients, free range pork and poultry, free range eggs, MSC fish, Freedom Food, Fairtrade and LEAF produce.

Section two is about championing local food and section three is about making healthy eating easy.

As you can see, achievement of the Silver and Gold Marks depend on mutual commitment – in terms of time, effort and financial resources. The fact that we are so far down the track with this project is testament to the quality relationships we have developed with these individual schools.

Sam Davies
Director of Food, Cucina

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