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【The Standard:Boarding Insider】Healthy School Meals

Boarding 101


“I’d like my daughter to eat healthily if I send her to boarding school. Do schools put an emphasis on healthy eating?”​

I believe that there are still many stereotypes about British eating habits and school food. For instance, the UK was once renowned for fried food.

However, as a result of health- awareness campaigns driven by the media, chefs and dietary specialists over recent years, together with pressure and demand from fee-paying parents for healthy food, boarding schools do provide varied and nutritious menus.

Many boarding schools have turned to recruiting highly skilled chefs to produce healthy meals from scratch. Preprepared dishes and microwavable meals are certainly a thing of the past.

Schools generally have contracts with responsible caterers which place an emphasis on responsibly and ethically sourced food.

The attention schools pay to the source of food is a vital point here in answer to your question. Schools tend to support local suppliers, opting for the best cheeses from their particular region, for instance. It is also comforting to know that meat and dairy products are Red Tractor certified. Red Tractor is the largest food assurance scheme in the UK.

There is more awareness and attention to detail in food preparation in schools.

Chefs commonly use rapeseed oil for cooking, olive oil for dressings, herbs and spices instead of salt while also ridding meat of excess fat. This is all very assuring for parents and pupils.

In terms of eating fruit and vegetables, schools ensure, where possible, that children get their “five a day.” The provision of seasonal fruit and vegetables is the norm in dining halls.

A child can get used to having a fruit salad for breakfast, apple pie after lunch and a piece of fruit with supper.

One school where food and nutrition is central to school life is Uppingham.

Through in-house dining, meals are provided in an extended family environment. Moreover, the school actively consults with parents and students about food choices and each week a new dish is tried and tested. Indeed, international and Asian dishes have found their way onto school menus.

Overall, a healthy diet can be followed at boarding school because children have options. Individual dietary requirements can often be met; vegetarian tastes can be catered for and pupils have a voice – they can discuss their needs with chefs. 

Mabel Chan is a principal consultant at Britannia StudyLink. lucyqna

Picture: Millfield School

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