Our Good School Food Award winners 2023
A big round of applause for our eight deserving prizewinners – they wowed us with their brilliant standards and innovative solutions in tough circumstances. Congratulations to you all!
Think you’re top of the class? Watch this space for next year’s awards…
Heart’s Kindness & Community Award
Joyce Tanoh-Mensah, The Belsteads School, Chelmsford
Budge up, we want a seat at Joyce’s table! Not only does she cook amazing meals from scratch, her sunny outlook makes the dining hall a home-from-home.
Staff at this independent special education & mental health school say that Joyce has improved their food offering beyond recognition. Her freshly cooked dinners include food from all around the world, so it’s no surprise that the uptake of meals has increased significantly since Joyce took over the cooking.
But it was also Joyce’s warm and welcoming manner that meant she clinched this award. She’s made the kitchen and dining room the heart of the school, and a place where kids want to eat together and hang out. In school she’s known as ‘Mama Joyce’ and we can totally see why.
Judged by George Webster and Loyle Carner, presented by Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston
The One Show’s Rising Star
Silver Springs Primary Academy, Stalybridge
Chef Mr Banham is a culinary hero at Silver Springs, with the children raving about his delicious seasonal meals – which we know is no mean feat!
The school is located in a diverse community and has a high proportion of children on free school meals, so making sure they have exciting, nutritious meals every day is really important. Mr Banham delivers that and more, all with a reduced team, failing equipment and a limited budget.
It’s not only staff and children who rave about his menus, but visitors too! He’s introduced initiatives including Meat-Free Fridays, a specials board, special menu days, a Jubilee street party, and a cooking club three times a week. And Mr Banham understands that one of the best ways to encourage the children to connect with nature and understand about sustainable living is by using seasonal ingredients, which he picks from the school’s very own allotment.
He and his team know all the children individually and regularly go the extra mile for them, managing some highly specialised diets for children with special educational needs. They’ve even managed to reach the holy grail of increasing the amount of fruit, veg and salad pupils eat. We think it’s fair to say that Mr Banham has achieved a hero-like status in the school thanks to his passion and love for food.
We know Mr Banham and his team are working in tough conditions, but we hope winning this award helps you on your journey.
Judged and presented by Mary Berry and Alex Jones
The Sun’s Catering Team Champions
Wyre Forest School, Kidderminster
Everyone loves chef James Sommerville and his super-inspiring team and it’s not hard to see why – they ensure all of the kids are well fed.
As well as providing a range of healthy, nutritious main courses and puddings each day, James and the team – Lynda, Carla and Alison – also prep different breads and a salad bar, so there’s lots of choice, and lunchtimes are something all the students look forward to. The children who go to Wyre Forest have a wide range of special educational needs, which means the team caters for those who need puréed food, those who are peg-fed and for many types of allergies and dietary requirements. But nothing is too much trouble for James and the team. You can even try one of their delicious recipes here.
The team’s attention to detail is second-to-none. They will notice if one of the 331 students isn’t eating properly; or if their eating habits have changed. They then work with class staff and the child to find out how they can be tempted to broaden their choices.
But not only do the catering team look after the children’s appetites, they also help them develop usable skills, by offering sixth-form students work experience, teaching them about food hygiene as well as how to serve food. This is such a brilliant support, as this often isn’t possible in the same way with external companies. What a team!
Judged and presented by Joe Wicks
School Leader Food Hero
Helena Honeybone, Town Field Primary School, Doncaster
Helena Honeybone is a headteacher after our own hearts! She and her team are on a mission to ensure every child in her school is fed properly.
Helena believes that children should have access to a nutritious daily meal without passing rising costs onto families. She always prioritises the needs of her children, going above and beyond to ensure that food is incorporated into their education, helping staff weave health themes into their lessons. Children also find the fun in food by learning to cook their own meals. And she supports Chef Andy who makes magic happen in the canteen with his powerhouse team.
During the pandemic, Helena worked tirelessly to ensure that food parcels or vouchers were organised and passed out to those in need, sometimes delivering them herself. We know that Helena would say this was a huge team effort, which it was, but she led from the front and put the needs and health of the children at the heart of it all. She deserves the shiniest crown!
Judged and presented by Jessica Ennis-Hill
Prospect House Specialist Support Primary School, Manchester
Prospect House Primary School understands that prioritising sustainability in school is prioritising students’ futures.
Prospect House have gone the extra mile to ensure their school is as sustainable as possible. They introduced Meat-Free Mondays, as well as offsetting their meat consumption with plant-based meal alternatives (with students embracing this change whole-heartedly!).
As well as regular recycling areas, they also have a food waste station that measures the school’s daily food waste, so they can tweak menu options according to student’s tastes and minimise waste. Food caddies in every classroom also ensure all food waste in school is recycled. There’s even an ‘Eco Warriors’ termly theme, which encourages children to think about sustainability outside of school by looking at areas of food, health, nature (biodiversity), energy, recycling, transport and climate.
Outside of the school building they’re growing ingredients they can use in the school kitchen, compost bins decompose any food and garden waste – and let’s not forget the two therapy pigs Sebastian and Dolores, who eat any leftover fruit and veg, and help the children learn about how to look after animals.
Judged by Greg James, presented by Demi Stokes
Early Years Award
Prestonfield Nursery, Edinburgh, Scotland
It was Prestonfield’s Family Cooking initiative that really caught our attention, inviting families into the nursery for cooking sessions…
At this nursery, more than 70% of the children live in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) band 1-3, the lowest bands of 10. These cooking sessions not only inspire a love of food, but also enable children to take home a healthy meal the whole family can share and easily replicate – helping those struggling financially, while also getting everyone to spend time together, continuing the fun at home. Win-win!.
The setting’s multicultural staff developed five delicious recipes for the initiative, including Italian, Indian and Mexican dishes. The project brings everyone joy: the families love the sessions, as it means they can share more than just food (cooking ideas, food bank locations, no-food-waste sites), while the nursery likes to see everyone getting together (the three lead staff go the extra mile every week to ensure the families have the best experience).
It’s so successful that school funding has been secured to buy utensils and a new cooker. There are also plans for a Grow Your Own area, and to expand the number of cooking stations to involve as many families as possible moving forward. We can’t wait to see what you guys do in the future.
Judged by Demi Stokes, presented by George Webster
Youth Activist of the Year
Saffron from Portsmouth
When Saffron talks, we need to listen. She channels her personal experience to lobby government officials for a fairer food system. Hear this girl roar!
Saffron has been a Young Food Ambassador for the Children’s Right2Food campaign for four years. Her personal experience means she talks passionately about food poverty stigma and barriers to accessing an affordable, healthy diet. And there’s no doubt policymakers listen to her – she’s met with her MP to discuss Free School Meals and goes to regular meetings with the former Children’s Minister and Department for Education officials.
Then when the cost-of-living crisis crashed in, Saffron met with supermarket heavyweight Sainsbury’s to ask them how they could better support low-income families – which resulted in a £2 veg box pilot in 200 stores. We hope this award shows you our appreciation.
Judged by Big Has, Seema Pankhania and Luke Hall, presented by Luke Hall and Jimi Famuwera
Food Educator of the Year
Jackie Dean, Carshalton Boys Sports College
We know it’s the passion and drive of the food educators that can make all the difference – and that’s certainly the case for Jackie.
The thing is, Jackie, who is head of Food Studies at the school, understands that teaching food is more than just about cooking. These lessons develop literacy, numeracy and functional skills, as well as helping students feel included in a school community. And at Carshalton that’s even more important, as they have lots of international children. Jackie and her assistant Michelle Hepburn take these children under their wings and teach them that studying food can be cool!
Jackie, along with Michelle, helps the children become more aware of their own diets, while introducing them to delicious new foods. They also regularly invite professionals (including Jamie and Raymond Blanc) into school, which of course is a highlight! And with children from all over the world – Greece, Turkey, Ghana, to name a few – they explore a fantastic variety of cuisines, which ensures lessons are as fun and flavoursome as they can be.
We’ve also heard it’s impossible to ignore their classroom, as mouth-watering aromas travel down the corridors, so we couldn’t think of a better team to win this prestigious award.
Judged and presented by Jamie Oliver