It is well-known that Oldham Borough Council has received awards from Britain in Bloom but those of us attending Lydgate Monday talk were delighted to hear that another award has been won by the Council – a BOOM award for the Schools Meals Service. BOOM translates to “best of organic market” and Oldham schools meals contain 20% organic produce.
Anne Burns, Head of Oldham School Meals Service is proud of this figure and also of the fact that 91% of the ingredients used are home produced, all the meat, for instance, coming from Yorkshire.
Anne is passionate about her job, believing that all children, regardless of circumstances. deserve the best and that is why she strives continually to ensure that the 17,000 meals produced in the school kitchens maintain the high standards that she sets. With only a team of four administrators and the 65p a head per day allocated, she organises a three week menu cycle of a choice of hot meal and sweet, sources and negotiates with suppliers, and arranges deliveries to 86 primary school kitchens for preparation on site.
Obviously, this kind of organisation takes tremendous skill at calculation, negotiation, decision making, but most of all at inspiring everyone in her team and in the kitchens, with her belief that children deserve the best. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, wants the rest of Manchester to match the service that Anne Burns heads. Not bad for a girl who started as a trainee cook in Rochdale in 1978!
The BOOM award has brought publicity. First an article in the Guardian newspaper which led to a radio programme and then two full days filming 10 programmes for Channel 4. Anne takes it all in her stride and welcomes the chance to spread her mantra “all children deserve the best”. Who could argue?