In Breckenbrough’s own kitchen, the team of in-house chefs produce nutritionally balanced meals for the students 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 students to taste. Some of the students 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 students have special diets and we cater for all of these; working individually with the them in many different ways; initially, however stead-fast their requirement, we support that and then slowly with discussion directly with the student and with support via keyworkers, 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 students come and go and consequently develop long term relationships that enables them to speak with the students, both formally and informally to understand their specific needs. This helps us when we have to make individual meals and understand a student’s needs in the dining areas.
Our greatest success so far is a studentwho 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 and 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 students to have a supervised quiet place to eat, should that be how they choose to have their meal times.
Students getting involved
We use every opportunity to listen to the students’ 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.
We offer, wherever possible, the opportunity for students to come into the kitchen and work with us. It’s still a new thing but so far we have had one student cook tea for 15 fellow student and we are now talking with another student 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 an ‘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 residential students, we take care of the their clothing and bedding and daily cleaning of their rooms. Obviously, the older students are encouraged to clean and wash their own areas and belongings as part of our independent living skills programme. 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 students have specific needs and routines that we accommodate in our working practice. Like the catering team, the domestic services team have been here long enough to know and look after the welfare of all the students and we make sure the same staff work in the same areas to have that ‘sense of same’ and consistency that the students need.
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.