In Breckenbrough’s own kitchen the team of in-house chefs produce nutritionally balanced meals for the pupils for breakfast, lunch and tea during weekdays. With menus that have been reviewed externally by a nutritionist for balance and nutritional quality; we source seasonal, ethical and locally produced ingredients wherever possible and then prepare everything on site from the raw ingredients. We are passionate about classic dishes and introducing, wherever we can, new foods for the boys to taste. Some of the pupils have a very limited vocabulary of foods when they arrive and it’s an exciting challenge to work with them to try different food stuffs.
Some pupils have special diets and we cater for all of these; working individually with the boys in many different ways; initially, however stead-fast their requirement, we support that and then slowly with discussion directly with the pupil and with support through care colleagues in food technology and personal development, we work to introduce a better way of eating and a better understanding of the need for a balanced diet.
Our kitchen team
The friendly kitchen team here at Breckenbrough has been here long enough to see pupils come and go and consequently develop long term relationships with the pupils that enables them to speak with the pupils both formally and informally to understand their specific needs. This helps us when we have to make individual meals and understand a pupil’s needs in the dining areas.
Our greatest success so far is a pupil who came to us eating the same set meal for lunch and teatime, day in day out. Now eighteen months later, he accesses a varied menu and a developing palate and trusts us to work with him try new foods, almost weekly. It’s so exciting to think we’ve helped him with this. Exciting to think that he talks about his food with passion.
The dining areas
We have two dining areas, one – large and busy and a second, quieter and smaller one, as well as the space for pupils to have a supervised quiet place to eat, should that be how they choose to have their meal times.
We use every opportunity to listen to the pupils’ views on the food we produce for them, giving them a voice through surveys and direct discussion. Wherever they have favourites and ask specifically for things they like, we write them into the menu the following week. That’s the beauty of being independent and in control of our own menu writing and purchasing; we can be that flexible.
Pupils getting involved
We offer, wherever possible, the opportunity for pupils to come into the kitchen and work with us. It’s still a new thing but so far we have had one pupil cook tea for 15 fellow pupils and we are now talking with another boy who’s interested in doing the same.
The catering team works closely with the domestic services team in school. Cleaning is a constant challenge as the school is a very active and ‘outdoor wherever possible’ group of people. Of course this means bringing the outside inside and our public areas seem to need cleaning endlessly; but as in any home we keep high standards. For the younger boarders we take care of the boy’s clothing and bedding and daily cleaning of their rooms. Obviously the older pupils are encouraged to clean and wash their own areas and belongings as part of our independent living skills programme but the communal areas along with toilet/shower areas are kept spick and span by our team to make sure they feel as at home as possible. Again a lot of the boys have specific needs and routines that we accommodate in our working practice. Like the catering team, the domestic services team has been here long enough to know and look after the welfare of all the boys and we make sure the same staff work in the same areas to have that ‘sense of same’ that the boys like.
Our greatest success so far is a pupil who came to us eating the same set meal for lunch and teatime, day in day out. Now a year and a half later he's got a varied menu and a developing palette and trusts us to work with him try new foods, almost weekly. It's so exciting to think we've helped him with this. Exciting to think that he talks about his food with passion.