As I am doing work experience at a leading food and drink agency, it has made me reflect on my day-to-day food experiences at school. I currently attend Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge, and have done for the past five and a half years. You may think that half a decade of eating at the same canteen may get a bit dull, however input from students and discussions with the dinner-ladies ensures that the catering staff are always adjusting their services in order to please everyone at Weald.

Ever since Jamie Oliver’s healthy eating campaign reached schools, it has meant school catering companies have had to be more creative with their meal ideas and introduce new flavours and combinations that will encourage students to explore the big wide world of food. This can definitely be seen in the meals offered to younger years at Weald, however the 6th form café has plenty of treats available to ease the stress of A-Levels!

Throughout my time at Weald, there have been many changes and additions made in order to make lunchtime a more enjoyable experience. These include extending the canteen by adding the “WOK diner” (pictured) with a retro 60s theme to pay homage to the school’s opening in 1962. This new space saw the introduction of a salad bar with a broad selection of healthy dishes for students to mix and match to create their own salad pot.

Along with the salad bar, the main canteen offers multiple dishes every day – the main meal and ‘street food’ inspired dishes which change daily, as well as the option of pasta, jacket potatoes and sandwiches are always available. It’s not too shabby!

Once you’ve chosen from the vast range of meals and paid using the ‘cashless catering’ system, which uses thumb scanners and online payments, it’s time to choose where to eat it. As in most schools across the nation, there’s a slight hierarchy system, and everyone knows their place within it! This hierarchy is generally applied to two situations: corridors and lunchtimes. Sixth formers have their own café with chesterfield sofas and dining tables, but are also free to join the rest of the school in either the canteen (nicknamed ‘La Wokerie’), the WOK diner, under the outdoor canopies, or even on the field if the weather allows for it (but this is England, so…). We also have no set seating time unlike the lower school, and have the luxury of skipping the lunch queue!

The lunchtime experience at Weald is definitely something I will miss when my seven years are up, as the daily 50 minute break is a time to relax with friends, do some last minute homework due next lesson, and most importantly eat some good food (and maybe have an ice cream too!).

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