Children enjoy a Christmas treat

Mayor enjoys Christmas dinner with pupils
Mayor, Councillor Trevor McKeever (5th left) enjoys Christmas dinner with pupils, staff and governors at Drapers' Maylands Primary School
Published: Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Across the borough school kitchens have been serving up a treat.

Top of the menu at this time of the year has been the traditional Christmas dinner – turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, carrots and Brussels sprouts, the works.

The Mayor of Havering, Councillor Trevor McKeever, was guest of honour at Drapers’ Maylands Primary School in Harold Hill where he dined with children as they enjoyed the festive fare.

The school is one of 62 across Havering serving up more than 12,000 school meals per day and a whopping two million meals each year.

Drapers’ Maylands is also in the unique position of having a zero packed-lunch policy, which ensures that all children dine together and have the opportunity for a hot, healthy meal each day.

The Mayor said: 

“I was very impressed with both the school and the children, and it was a real pleasure to share Christmas dinner with them.

“School meals have changed over the years and one of the key things is the variety. Schools have worked hard to ensure that the meals are both nutritional and affordable, which is so important when people are concerned about the cost of living.”

The menus are created by Havering Education Services catering team, which is run by the Council, and provides menus on a three-weekly cycle to ensure children have a nutritious meal each day and don’t get bored with repeatedly eating the same food.

For the past four years, the food has been audited once a year by the Soil Association, and meets the Food for Life Silver Standard - with 75 per cent of the food home cooked and a minimum 5 per cent of ingredient spend on organic produce. 

The service hopes that more schools will opt for school dinners.

Principal Trudy Spillane said: 

“By eating together the children are benefitting in lots of different ways. 

“They are not only strengthening their social skills and their relationships with each other, but they are also having a nutritional two-course meal that a packed lunch would prove difficult to beat not just on cost but also in convenience and variety.”

School meal take-up has increased in Havering including the number of children taking advantage of free school meals.

The Mayor added:

“There used to be a bit of stigma around free school meals but schools now operate in a way that makes it easier for children to apply and no one would know who is on free meals and who isn’t.”

Find out if you can get free school meals