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LACA reveals programme of speakers at Main Event

24th Jun 2024 - 06:00
LACA reveals programme of speakers at Main Event
LACA, the school food people, is looking forward to welcoming school caterers and suppliers back to the Main Event, which is taking place from July 3-4 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

The theme for this year’s conference, exhibition, competitions, and awards extravaganza is ‘Levelling Up School Food’, which has been chosen to put the focus on the fact that providing nutritious meals to children has become increasingly challenging due to significant cost increases, staff shortages and funding shortfalls.

In response to these challenges, LACA has launched a campaign urging all political parties to commit to a minimum funding level of £3 per meal (index-linked) in their general election manifestoes.

The programme and features at the Main Event have been designed to address the disparities in school meals funding across the four UK nations of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

One of the conference sessions is devoted to finding out from each of these about the school meals situation ‘on the ground’, the challenges each is facing, and how the funding figures for each stack up when it comes to ‘levelling up’.

The four will be represented by Anita Brown, LACA National Chair (England), Judith Gregory, LACA National Vice Chair (Wales), Chris Ross, Chair of ASSIST FM (Scotland), and Colm Bradley, Education Authority (Northern Ireland).

Various speakers and panel sessions will explore strategies that can help to ensure that all children and young people receive the very best school food to support their growth and learning.

Among the highlights will Dr Amir Khan, a full-time GP and best-selling author who is the resident doctor for ITV’s Lorraine & Good Morning Britain and hosts Dr Amir’s Sugar Crash (Channel 5) and You Are What You Eat (with Trisha Goddard, Channel 5).

He will talk about the importance of nutrition in children’s diets and the impact of good nutrition at an early age on other public health bodies including the NHS.

And LACA’s new ambassador, former National Chef of the Year Mark Sargeant, will be joining Anita Brown in welcoming delegates to the two-day conference programme. 

On Thursday (July 4th) another panel session will examine the idea of ‘You Are What You Eat’. Three presentations will update delegates on key areas such as allergens, UK farming developing towards Net Zero+ delivery, and current thinking on nutrition and how to educate children on the subject.

They will be delivered by David Titman of Raising Nutrition, Steve Thomas of Ample Marketplace, and Nadim & Tanya Ednan-Laperouse of the Natasha research foundation, after which the floor will be open for delegates to take part in a Q&A session.

Crown Commercial Services this year issued the tender for the Buying Better Food and Drink Programme to Entegra, a Sodexo company. Clare O’Brien, head of public sector operations at Entegra, will share not only the current plans for how it will work, but also why it is such an important step to a more sustainable environmental and economic approach to sourcing product.

Luke Hall, ex Youth MP for South Tyneside and Advisory Rep for BiteBack 2030, will offer a view of school food from a young person’s perspective in a presentation titled ‘The missing voice: What we aren’t talking about within the school food sector’.

Brad Pearce, Immediate Past Chair of LACA, recently chaired the advisory group to the School Food Matters healthy zones programme which conducted detailed research into determining what it costs to produce delicious, nutritious and sustainable meals in primary, secondary, special schools and alternative provision settings in England.

He will be joined by consultant Myles Bremner of Bremner & Co to talk about the project and share the findings to see what support they offer to LACA’s call for minimum funding of £3 per child per meal.

Research of another kind will be the focus of the ParentPay Group Research 2024 & the LACA Cost of Living Survey Update, presented by Ricky Nelson, Key Account Manager, ParentPay Group and Judith Gregory, LACA Vice-Chair.

With the General Election taking place on Day Two of the Main Event, Lee Petar of Menara Communications, LACA’s political and lobbying adviser, will offer his insight into what school food policies we can expect under the different party leaderships.

Meanwhile, John Douch of Sales Tribe will underscore the unprecedented importance of aligning sales, marketing, and customer engagement teams to adapt to changes in the marketplace. He will discuss how to get the attention of the educated buyer and explore the phenomenon of ‘customer obsession’.​​​​​​

Running alongside the LACA Main Event is the LACA School Food Show, where more than 175 suppliers will be showcasing products, services and solutions for school food providers.  School caterers can register to visit the exhibition free of charge.

Written by
Edward Waddell