The company behind the primary school catering brand ‘Eats’, has reported as much as a 25% increase in the uptake of school meals after the implementation of its innovative Pick & Mix offer.
Vertas was first to the market in East Anglia with the establishment of Pick & Mix; following the introduction of Universal Free School Meals and the identified need to encourage more pupils to enjoy school meals.
Pick & Mix allows the pupils to choose from a range of hot and cold food items to create their own packed lunch. The meal consists of a main, such as a filled roll, wrap, baguette or pasta pot, a side, such as a cheese straw or pot of cheese and grapes, a fruit or vegetable pot and a dessert, such as flapjack or the all-time school favourite ‘Chocolate Crunch’.
This alternative runs alongside the classic ‘hot dinners’, complementing it by providing a variety of lunch options; therefore reducing queues. Pick & Mix has not only been popular with pupils – parents and teachers have praised the new service because of the autonomy it places on the pupil to make their own decisions about what they have for lunch.
The offer is based on a packed lunch but ensures a balanced & nutritious meal, removing chocolate bars and fizzy drinks that sometime appear in a packed lunch brought in from home. This maintains the pupil’s concentration for an afternoon of learning.
Jo Lardent, Group Commercial Director for Vertas Group Limited, said:
“We are constantly striving to find new and exciting ways to cater for our most important customer base – the region’s young people!
“It is important that we regularly introduce new innovations when it comes to school meals to ensure we stay ahead of the curve. Pick & Mix allows us to provide a healthy alternative to ‘hot dinners’ whilst introducing a bit of fun and more choice at lunchtime.
“We have had some fantastic feedback from the schools who have introduced Pick & Mix and we are delighted to have launched it in over 40 schools across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex; with more to follow in the coming months.”
A spokesperson for Gorseland Primary School in Ipswich, said:
“The introduction of pick and mix has been a huge hit with our children and their parents, the daily dinner numbers are evidence of this. Children can be seen thoroughly enjoying their lunchtime experience and are more alert during lessons in the afternoon, following a healthy lunch.”
Further to the success of the primary school Pick & Mix, Vertas is launching a secondary school version of the service which will provide older children with the option to purchase a meal deal, similar to those sold in supermarkets, with packaging reflecting high street food outlets.
Vertas is trialling ‘My Lunch’ at Sybil Andrews, the new secondary school in Bury St Edmunds following rave reviews from students who enjoyed their ‘My Lunch’ on transition days before the summer holidays.