Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Conference report From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 41, Issue 6
LACA Conference on Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th July at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole
Established in 1990, the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA), now LACA Ltd, is the leading professional body representing 750 catering managers in local authorities, private contractors and individual schools who are providers of school meals services within primary and secondary schools within England, Wales and Scotland (The Northern Ireland region is currently dormant). Since its inception, LACA has set out to inform, develop, represent and support its members through a range of initiatives and services. The membership of LACA Ltd is diverse and includes public and private sector providers, client officers, dietitians and individual schools.
There are also 400 associate members who are jointly responsible for the supply of over £425 m worth of food, drink, equipment and services to the school catering sector. With 135 local authorities represented in the membership, 80 per cent of the catering service is provided by LACA Members and with around three million lunches being served every day in 22,000 schools, the LACA network is the country’s largest provider of school catering.
Each year they hold a conference and this one had the theme of “When the going gets tough” with topics which help people to survive catering for young people in difficult economic times.
Not only were there practical presentations on such subjects as:
marketing and communication; and
influencing local government.
There were also inspirational presentations on the “Sky’s the limit” from a coal miner turned mountaineer. There was a final address by Terry Waite CBE which was on “When the going gets tough-the tough get going” and showed how his period as a hostage enabled him to draw on inner strengths and how stress can be a source of such strength.
The conference is accompanied by a major exhibition of products, services and related to school catering. Indeed this exhibition is free and was extremely well attended.
Finishing touches is a static culinary display salon organised by LACA in association with the Craft Guild of Chefs. Now in its fifth year the competition is aimed at all levels of staff employed in any aspect of local authority catering capable of producing excellent craft pieces. It provides entrants with the opportunity to show off their skills which would not normally be seen during their everyday profession.
LACA also showcases a competition School Chef of the Year. The School Chef of the Year judging criteria demand skills and standards from participants that send a clear message to all customers – from heads and governors to parents and young people.
And that message is that the nation’s talented front-line staff in schools not only prepare tasty, highly creative dishes to tempt the taste buds of discerning children and young people but also nutritious school meals that can make a major contribution towards altering eating habits, improving diets and decreasing obesity levels.
A number of LACA awards for excellence are also given. Every year the awards acknowledge individuals and teams of people who continue to make a real difference in education catering.
Winning a LACA award not only boosts the confidence, morale and motivation of the whole organisation but is instrumental in changing the attitudes and influencing the actions of both parents and pupils.
Here is the list of winners:
Catering Business of the Year Award – Northamptonshire County Council.
Specialist Caterer/Catering Team of the Year Award – Warwickshire County Caterers.
Primary School Catering Team of the Year – Pembrokeshire County Council.
Secondary School Catering Team of the Year – Derbyshire County Council.
Education Catering Marketing Award – Bolton School Meals.
Chairman’s Award – Steve Munkley.
Nan Berger Memorial Award – Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC.
Supplier of the Year – Falcon Foodservice Equipment.
Change for Life Award – Caterlink.
Roger Davies Outstanding Achievement Award – Carole Moseley.