Catering experts Gary and Anna Hardley brought the new enterprise to Our Lady of Sion School in Gratwicke Road, Worthing, last Thursday (January 20).
The Plant Based School Kitchens, from the founders behind Coeliac UK-approved ‘Vegan Street Food Company’, was developed to ‘challenge the perception of school dinner catering’ across the whole country.
After sampling the ‘highly nutritious’ plant-based menu, the teaching staff at Our Lady of Sion School were impressed with the presentation and flavours of the healthy dishes, seeking a partnership to ensure the school offered a new additional dining option for students to sit alongside packed lunches.
Mr Hardley said: “With governments internationally encouraging a lower consumption of meat and an eco-friendlier way of growing and sourcing seasonal ingredients, there is a large demand to bring the increasingly-popular plant-based diet into schools and other mainstream establishments.
“Ethical eating and farming are vital to the longevity of the planet and feeding children in schools has too often been about profit rather than nutrition.
“There is a growing body of evidence that a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest for children to grow up on, aiding academic performance through the provision of nutrient-rich meals.
“As such, it is the mission of our dedicated team of professional chefs and nutritionists to see a plant based, gluten free kitchen in every school.
“Furthermore, we are working closely with the local council in a combined effort to ensure a minimum carbon footprint and low food wastage is a top priority of this project.
“We are delighted to launch the first of our UK Plant Based School Kitchen operations at Sion’s Founders’ Day celebration because the school promotes ethics and consideration for people, animals and the planet – all values we are jointly aligned in championing.”
Students were given the choice from two different hot meals plus a cold lunchbox option. Dishes included; toad in the hole with roasted potatoes, carrots and swede; teriyaki broccoli tofu with rice noodles or BBQ jackfruit jackets with salad.
School headteacher Steven Jeffery said: “As I considered the future of hot food for Sion, I was keen to find something exciting, attractive and good for our consumers and the planet.
“We are constantly developing our curriculum in response to world events and the positive changes within the attitudes and understanding around human rights and planet-health.
“I am personally inspired by the work of Satish Kumar and particularly his statements within his profoundly inspiring book, Soil:Soul:Society.
“As a place of education which works hard to prepare our young people for life in the real world, exploring plant-based meals is another facet of our ever-evolving education here at Sion.”
The event on January 20 marked the school’s founders’ day celebration.
This celebrates the inception of the Sisters of Sion, dating back to 1842 by Theodore Ratisbonne, along with his brother Alphonse, whose work embodied the school’s motto today of ‘Consideration Always.’
This is the first partnership of Plant Based School Kitchens’ UK roll-out of vegan school lunch operations across the UK. To find out how your establishment can also get involved, visit https://plantbasedschoolkitchens.co.uk/ or email [email protected]