All schools need to hire the services of a dedicated caterer, but is to so hard to find a reliable one that a company which travels an astounding 500 miles to transport lunches every day needs to be employed? That's exactly what Nottingham based caterer Cygnet Catering are doing, as they by supply daily meals to more than 100 schools based in Dorset. |
This journey takes up to four hours and all meals are transported in refrigerated Lorries. The scheme has been called 'ludicrous' by parents of the school children, and it has been criticised by government watchdogs who decry the 1,000 miles per week that the transportation distance incurs, costing about £80 in fuel. But Dorset County Council claim that this £1.2 million contract is 'value for money', and Cygnet defend their arrangement by claiming that the £2.02 cost of each lunch includes all fuel and transportation fees. However, when considering the environmental impact of this scheme, questions about the extent of one company's carbon footprint are raised.
A catering company in Nottingham travels 230 miles every day to deliver school dinners to Dorset. Is this a good idea or a colossal waste of resources?
Meals being transported to schools include lasagne, fish fingers, southern fried chicken, pizza, and sausage and mash. The Cygnet Catering factory prepares the meals on its premises and then packs them frozen to be transported across the UK to a number of areas, including Weymouth, Portland, Poole and Bournemouth.
Unsurprisingly, parent groups have cast doubt on just how fresh the food is after having travelled for such long periods of time before getting to their children's plates. Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for children's service organisation Parents Outloud, states: 'It takes at least four hours to do this journey, that's a long way for food to travel [... ] it makes you wonder if the food can be as fresh as if it were prepared locally.
This is hardly a surprising claim. After all, there must be a hospitality employment agency better geographically suited for such a service, like a catering agency in Exeter. Nevertheless, Cygnet Catering have defended their system, with one spokesman saying: 'We have an expert team that ensures our distribution network is as efficient as possible, helping us reduce road miles and provide a high-quality delivery service to schools across the country.'
It seems that little will currently be done to change the practice set up between Dorset County Council and Cygnet Catering, however, Toni Coombs, a cabinet member for education at Dorset County Council has cast uncertainty over the scheme's future by pointing out that the contract with Cygnet Catering will expire in July 2014, and hinting that the council is considering switching to a more local supplier for its deliveries after this date.
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