Skip to main content
Search Results

Healthy eating is critical to good health – and we have a role

9th Nov 2023 - 13:14
Public Sector Catering Alliance chair Matthew White
Public Sector Catering Alliance chair Matthew White has come away inspired by his recent visit to the PSC Expo.

As I sit down to write this blog, I am in a hotel in the Midlands near to the venue of the Public Sector Catering Expo 2023. It is day two today and I am yearning to get going as yesterday was a brilliant day with the exhibition full of suppliers and partners, keynote speakers, competitions and, of course, lots and lots of public sector caterers.

It was a delight to see so many friends and to meet lots of new faces who had come to see all the latest equipment, foods and trends on offer, as well as the stimulating speakers who discussed with passion and zeal the future of food and its impacts on our nations.

All of this reminded me of the critical nature of the food and services we provide to keep the people we feed healthy and well.

Hearing one of our speakers talking about the importance of the micro-organisms in our gut and the devastating effects highly processed foods can have on gut health, and in turn our total well-being, was quite an eye opener.

One colleague mentioned to me that food poverty can force people in need into eating these foods with long shelf lives or ambient products that can be easily stored that are packed with additives and are so highly processed.

This causes an almost self-fulfilling prophecy of ill health and certainly poor gut health, which in turn does not serve the rest of our bodies and minds well.

We as public caterers have to work with the supply chain to ensure that food labels are simple, not full of additives and multiple ingredients. Scratch cooking enables us to take control.

We also heard at the Expo from the deputy president of the NFU, who talked about all of our very own British produce that we need to channel to public sector plates.

It is by working with great produce, alongside our farmers, growers and suppliers, that we can bring into our kitchens amazing products that can be treated with love and care and turned into great tasting dishes that inspire our customers to choose them over processed alternatives.

It is our job to make sure we train our teams with the skills and knowledge that will allow them to confidently create inspiring, healthy and nutritious meals. Many of our customers in the public sector are almost a captive audience, so where we can, we should capitalise on the opportunity to ensure that the meal we serve, be it in prison, in the theatre of war, in a college, university, school, hospital, care home, workplace or any other public food setting, is the most nutritious and healthy as it can be.

Training is key and at the Expo we saw amazing work by His Majesty’s Armed Forces, in their Exercise Joint Caterer competition and salon culinaire, displaying their first-class talents and skills.

We also heard from LACA about its School Chef of the Year (SCOTY) competition and how it grows and develops skills in teams across the nations.

So don’t be shy, get your teams involved in the various membership organisations competitions and academies.

TUCO is relaunching its competitions next year and of course we have just seen the Care Chef of the Year announced at the NACC event. So go take a look at the NACC, PACE, HCA, TUCO, ASSIST FM or LACA websites and get involved. There is a wide array of competitions and training events there at your fingertips and, who knows, you could be the next winner celebrating amazing #PublicFood.

Keep up the amazing work you all do, I couldn’t have been prouder walking around the exhibition hall seeing public food represented in all its shining glory.

Written by
Matthew White