Waltham Forest serves UK’s ‘greenest’ school dinners

The council’s school catering company serves around 1million vegan meals a year
By Victoria Munro

Flora Jacoby Richardson, student at Jenny Hammond Primary
Flora Jacoby Richardson, student at Jenny Hammond Primary

Waltham Forest has been commended for having the “greenest” school dinners in the UK by a vegan meat company.

The 50 local schools whose meals are cooked by Waltham Forest Catering, owned by the council, eat approximately one million plant-based meals every year.

This is thanks to vegan options available every day and a weekly “Save the Planet” day where no meat dishes are served.

To celebrate their success, competition organiser Meatless Farm arranged for local schoolchildren to receive a cooking masterclass from 13-year-old vegan chef Omari McQueen last week.

Vegan chef Omari McQueen at a cooking masterclass for local children (credit: Meatless Farm)

Flora Jacoby Richardson, an 11-year-old at Jenny Hammond Primary School, said: “It’s important we have a plant-based food choice each day that everyone can eat and enjoy. The food tastes good and has a lot less harm to nature.”

Omari McQueen added: “I think Save the Planet days are a great idea and it makes me happy to see that they have plant-based options on the menu every day to help make a difference to the world around us. Every school’s menu should be like this one.”

Waltham Forest Catering also received a £5,000 investment towards its sustainable food programme and a plant-based workshop later this year from non-profit ProVeg UK, an organisation aiming to halve meat consumption by 2040. 

ProVeg UK director Jimmy Pierson said: “We’re incredibly impressed by Waltham Forest Catering, who are showing real climate leadership… knowing that it’s also healthier for children and can save them money. 

“Young people care about climate change and the planet – more than any other generation – and we know from their feedback that they love the new plant-based meals.”

Other areas commended for their commitment to green school meals were North Yorkshire, Devon and Salford.