anne burns oldham sq.jpg

Best Public Sector Caterer

Case study: Oldham's Golden Journey


Anne Burns receiving Oldham Council's Best Public Sector Catering Award, BOOMs, 2016


Key stats

Served over 19.38 million Catering Mark meals since 2010
Number of meals served: 17,000/ school week
Number of schools: 87 primary and special schools

Organic spend: 20.9% of total budget
(meat, milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, flour and vegetables)

Meal uptake: increased by 30% due to the Government UFSM
(an extra 4000 meals a day)
Food preparation: freshly prepared daily at 87 sites 
Number of staff: 432


Your name and job title

Anne Burns, Head of Education Catering at Oldham Council

About your organisation

Oldham Council is one of the 10 local authorities that make up the Combined Authority of the Manchester City Region, and our catering team were the first to be awarded a Gold Food for Life Catering Mark in the North West for the quality of the school meals service.

What were the key factors in winning your first Gold Catering Mark? 

Everything depends on the people at the helm – the professional commitment of the catering manager, the skills and enthusiasm of the catering team and the sustained political support of local politicians.

Was the expense of the award prohibitive in a relatively deprived local authority area?

No, the cost wasn’t prohibitive, because of our sound menu planning and close working relationships with suppliers. Oldham charges £2 per head for a school meal, one of the lowest charges in the region.

What are the challenges ahead?

The main challenges are:

  • To engage more with customers and parents by raising awareness of Food for Life Catering Mark, ensuring an understanding of the high quality organic and local products used daily.
  • Increase the take-up of school meals for all children
  • To sustain our high quality service in an age of austerity. 


What’s your sourcing policy?

We source from as many local suppliers as possible. The challenges have been regional sourcing of organic products, available within our budget, and the delivery logistics from smaller supply chains. We overcame this by engaging existing suppliers who act as hubs and this has worked for us.

Next steps:

Our wider vision is to engage more with our diverse community through growing and cooking groups, meals on wheels and luncheon clubs.

We will continue to raise the standards of our menus and source organic produce as our menus further develop.

We will continue work to increase the uptake of school meals by marketing, engagement, and communication, raising awareness of the benefits of our good quality school meals and organic produce.

We will assist and contribute towards the Obesity Strategy and Health and Wellbeing of our customers in Oldham.

Add a comment
Please login to post your comment:

Or login with your social media account: