Green School Menu League: Waltham Forest Tops Class
The London Borough of Waltham Forest has been crowned winners of the Green School Menu League.
The initiative, which was launched by Meatless Farm in collaboration with non-profit ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme and Omari McQueen, the UK’s youngest vegan chef, 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.
And Waltham Forest came out on top having transformed its menu to serve one million plant-based meals across 50 of its primary schools in a year with weekly ‘Save the Planet’ days and plant-based options served every day – ranging from creamy coconut korma to Jamaican patties and planet-friendly pizza. The children helped create the plant-based options in taster sessions with Waltham Forest Catering.
Local authority school menus and entrants were evaluated on ProVeg UK’s gold standard School Plates programme criteria to award schools taking steps to more sustainable eating and given McQueen’s seal of approval1.
The Greenest School Menus in the UK
- London Borough of Waltham Forest
- North Yorkshire County Council
- Academy for Character & Excellence (ACE), Devon
- Thomas Deacon Academy, Peterborough
- Salford City Council (Citywide Services)
Children from Jenny Hammond Primary School, one of the 50 Waltham Forest schools serving Waltham Forest Catering’s winning green menu, will today (4th May 2022) receive a live cooking masterclass from McQueen, star of the CBBC ‘What’s Cooking Omari?’. They will learn more about the benefits of plant-based foods and trying out Omari’s recipes.
Omari will also award £5,000 investment towards the school’s sustainable eating programme, including Meatless Farm products. ProVeg UK will be providing a plant-based workshop for Waltham Forest Catering later this year to help drive even further sustainable eating to make a difference to the planet.
All runners up will receive a case of Meatless Farm plant-based burgers, sausages, meatballs and mince to recognise their dedication to more sustainable meals.
With almost half (42%) of British children worried about the future and the environment and three quarters (75%) wanting to make a positive difference to the planet2 , Omari McQueen, 13-years-old and the UK’s youngest vegan chef, said:
“Children in Waltham Forest have taste tested the plant-based dishes served on their menus and are inspiring more delicious sustainable school meals. These menus are what children want to eat, and the adults! I think Save the Planet days are a great idea to have every week 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 menu should be like this one.”
Christine Cornall, Waltham Forest Catering operations manager, 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.”
Michael Hunter, Meatless Farm UK and Ireland managing director, said: “Congratulations to Waltham Forest Catering, this is great work and collectively they’re making a big difference through small changes to their school menu. The work of all the entrants is encouraging, for the environment and for the education young people are receiving about the food system. It shows that making that meat swap doesn’t need to be a compromise.”
Jimmy Pierson, ProVeg UK director, said: “We’re incredibly impressed by Waltham Forest Catering, who are showing real climate leadership by serving more sustainable plant-based meals on school menus, 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 served in fifty of the schools served by Waltham Forest Catering.”
The Green School Menu League initiative is part of Meatless Farm’s ‘For Kids by Kids’ campaign aimed at making more menus Meatless in schools in partnership with McQueen, and our aim to educate five million children globally about sustainable eating by 2023.
Example Waltham Forest School menu of plant-based options served daily
Monday: Planet Pizza, Creamy Korma, Tomato & Vegetable Pasta Bake with choice of minted garden peas and green beans
Tuesday: Save the Planet Day: Pea Risotto with choice of organic carrots and broccoli, Jacket Potato with choice of fillings
Wednesday: Tomato & Basil Pasta with choice of rosemary roast potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower
Thursday: Pea Tagine, Jamaican Patties with choice of fresh salad and mixed vegetables
Friday: Forest Fajita with choice of baked beans and homemade bread
See more about making school dinners Meatless here:
1 Independent schools were therefore excluded as they sit outside of the School Food Standards. Plant-Based School Kitchens, a private caterer – which is not required to adhere to the Standards – provide 100% plant-based meals for an independent school in Worthing and has an exemplary menu, highlighting what is achievable with more flexible standards.
2 Censuswide, October 2021
All winning primary schools within the Borough of Waltham Forest:
Ainslie Wood Infants & Juniors Primary
Barn Croft Infants & Juniors Primary
Belmont Park School Secondary/Special
Chapel End Infants and Primary
Chapel End Jnr
Chase Lane Primary
Chingford Junior School Primary
Connaught Girls Secondary
Emmanuel School Primary
Ferry Lane Primary School
Frederick Bremer Secondary
George Tomlinson Primary
Gwyn Jones Primary
Hawkswood School Primary
Henry Maynard Infants Primary
Henry Maynard Juniors Primary
Holy Family Wiseman House Secondary
Holy Family Walthamstow House Secondary
Jenny Hammond Primary
Joseph Clarke Special Primary
Newport Primary & Children Centre
Norlington Boys Secondary
Oak Hill Primary
Our Lady & St George’s (Lower) Primary
Our Lady & St George’s (Upper) Primary
Roger Ascham Primary
South Grove Primary
St Ignatius (Tottenham) Primary
St Joseph RC Infants Primary
St Joseph RC Juniors Primary
St Marys RC Primary
Thorpe Hall Primary
Whitefield School Primary/Special
Willow Brook Primary
Woodford Green Primary