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Herts and Essex High School gives its meals provider the chop

By Eleanor Scotchbrook

Herts & Essex High School students
Herts & Essex High School students

The future of Herts and Essex High School's catering service is on the chopping board amid complaints about mouldy and undercooked food being served to pupils.

The Warwick Road secondary confirmed yesterday (Tue) that current contractor Sodexo had not made the shortlist as part of a tendering process to appoint a new caterer to run the school canteen.

The quality of the service provided by Sodexo has been under scrunity since around Easter following complaints about the sub-standard quality and quantity of the food available.

Taking to social media to voice their concerns, parents claimed that their daughters were served mouldy brownies on just the second day of the new school term. Children have also reported feeling sick and faint during lessons because food has run out before the end of lunchtime, with the canteen even running out of bottled water on occasion.

Posting on Facebook, one parent said: “My daughter said one of her friends complained about mouldy brownies and when they were checked they were found to all be the same and left over from before the holidays.”

Another parent raged: “When kids are starting to faint through lack of food I consider it to be a serious problem, one which Birchwood and the Boys High don’t seem to struggle with.”

Another mum said it was “unacceptable for the children not to be fuelled”, adding: “This wouldn’t happen in primary school so it shouldn’t happen in senior school. My daughter fainted and was sick in school... and she claims this is partially due to lack of food.”

Another added: “The school makes a big deal of high expectations of the girls – they should have the same expectations of the catering company and not accept any less!”

Executive deputy head Jane O’Hagan said that the school took all complaints “extremely seriously” and that she was monitoring the school’s newly appointed catering manager on a daily basis to ensure a high-quality service was provided until the new contractor takes over in January.

“Unfortunately, Sodexo has not been able to meet the high standards that we expect, which is why they have not been shortlisted to continue running the service,” she said.

Students in the school’s Gourmet Group have been involved in shortlisting the three front runners.


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