Nottingham City Council’s school catering service has beaten leading private sector operators to win a tender for four new school catering contracts in Derby, bucking the national trend for school meal provision.  

The council served 2.1 million high quality, nutritious meals across 55 primary and secondary schools in Nottingham city last year but from April 2020, it will be adding the four Derby schools – Beaufort Community Primary; Cherry Tree Hill Primary; Asterdale Primary and Borrow Wood Primary to its ever-growing portfolio.

Councillor Neghat Khan said: “The key to the council’s recent success is that the education catering team recognises the importance of working in partnership with each school to ensure individual needs are met and expectations are exceeded.

“Our highly experienced team are always prepared to go above and beyond – from reflecting the school’s teaching programme in the menus and providing educational enrichment through clubs to running engaging cooking classes and supporting fundraising initiatives.”

Jo Bunting, from Odyssey Collaborative Trust, said: “We felt that Nottingham City Council’s emphasis on local fresh ingredients, quality meals for all with a flexibility of choice of menus to suit our children – including their Halal offer – and commitment to meet ‘Schools at Food for Life’ silver standard from the start of contract, made them the perfect partner for us to continue developing our catering service. The team were really passionate throughout the pitch, gave positive answers to our questions and the food presentation was fresh, attractive and authentic.”

The council is following a five-year business plan that seeks to establish it as a strong presence in the education catering sector, which is estimated to be worth £5 billion in 2020/21. It remains the largest school provider in the city with strong relationships with many local multi-academy trusts and stand-alone schools. The contracts won recently have enabled the service to grow by almost 15%, giving the council confidence to be ambitious with its future growth plans and seek new opportunities beyond its boundaries.

The council raises around £20m from commercial operations each year and is at the forefront of adapting its services to be more competitive in the open market. The extra money raised from the new venture with Derby brings money into the council to help it continue to fund local services.