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Former LACA chair Jacquie Blake receives OBE

2nd Jan 2024 - 09:51
Former LACA chair Jacquie Blake receives OBE
Jacquie Blake, who was LACA chair from September 2021 to 2022, has received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to education.

After two years shadowing Stephen Forster as vice chair of LACA, Jacquie stepped up to become the chair of the school food people in September 2021. LACA represent 300 local authorities and together they provide more than three million meals a day in 27,000 schools served by 110,000 staff.

In her day job, Jacquie was the commercial operations manager for Nottingham City Council. When Jacquie took over as chair of LACA, she told members: “My key objectives are to continue campaigning to extend free school meals and champion them as a means to reduce the childhood obesity epidemic.  

“LACA will also champion the ‘whole school’ approach, as detailed in the National Food Strategy, as we know this achieves the best results. With food prices increasing and the National Living wage rising we are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver school meals. If the industry is to survive, we need adequate funding.”

Jacquie had already started monthly meetings with the Department for Education, a number of MPs and the Minister for Children and Families, to highlight the financial and practical challenges facing members.

During her time as LACA chair she actively campaigned to increase universal free school meals (UIFSM) funding, encouraged school caterers to get involved with National School Meals Week (NSMW) and appeared on podcasts to promote the importance of feeding children healthy and nutritious food.

Commenting on the news, Jacquie said: "I was completely surprised, and extremely honoured and proud to have been awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours, for services to education. I have been privileged to work with some wonderful colleagues at LACA, Nottingham City Council and Public Sector Catering during my career. 

"They continue to work hard to ensure pupils receive a hot healthy school meal, which is so vital for so many, and continue to campaign for equity for all. I would not have received this award without all their support, so thank you."

She also helped oversee the move by LACA to start regularly gathering data to support its arguments, including the monthly snapshot survey, and was able to announce a link with the University of Edinburgh to develop a carbon footprint measurement tool to help members better manage food waste and work towards Net Zero goals.

Blake was named as a Guardians of the Grub ambassador during her time as LACA chair. Guardians of Grub have estimated that within education the average cost of avoidable food waste per meal is 22p. 

Written by
Edward Waddell