BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 20 November '15

Sodexo & WWF put ‘Green & Lean’ sustainable school meals on the menu

Sodexo – which serves around a million meals every day in schools, hospitals, workplaces, sports stadia, army barracks and prisons – has joined forces with WWF to develop and pilot a set of 10 sustainable meals.

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Pasta, pies and hot pots

Favourites such as beef lasagne, chicken and leek pie and Lancashire hot pot have been reworked by WWF experts and Sodexo chefs so that they’re nutritious, low carbon and contain responsibly sourced ingredients.

Plant-based foods now have to account for at least two-thirds of the volume of each meal; refined grains are replaced with whole grains and meat and fish must have relevant certification, such as MSC or RSPCA Assured.

‘It was really important that the meals we created tasted great. The idea was to make small changes to popular, well-loved dishes that would up the nutritional content and reduce the environmental impact, without dramatically changing the taste or the look of the dish.

‘For example, the Green & Lean lasagne contains more carrots, onions and celery than Sodexo’s original recipe and less beef mince. It also contains wholemeal rather than white flour pasta.’

Tom Allen, Sodexo’s executive development chef for Independent Schools

School trials

The ‘Green & Lean’ meals are being piloted over the next few weeks in eight of Sodexo’s independent school contracts.

Brentwood School in Essex is one of the eight schools taking part in the trial. Students at the school will be able to try each of the 10 sustainable meals twice during this half term.

All the schools received promotional materials which help explain the ethos and principles of Green & Lean to students and staff.

‘So far I have tried the beef lasagne and the chicken biryani. They were both really delicious and I didn’t notice that there were more vegetables than usual. We have learnt a lot in school about threats to the environment and about climate change, but I don’t think any of us realised that what you eat can affect this too.’

Student, Brentwood School in Essex

Extended services

Following the pilot, Sodexo intends to market the Green & Lean meals to other clients in its corporate services business, which provides employee restaurants to some of world’s biggest companies, as well as other schools and universities.

‘We reach consumers in every walk of life. For this reason we have an important role to play in both helping promote healthy lifestyles and in doing so in a way which is sustainable.

‘Green & Lean is an exciting development for us. We’re finding that consumers are more and more interested in the provenance of their food and want to make ethical, sustainable and healthy choices, but of course these options still need to be tasty and appealing.’

Edwina Hughes, Sodexo UK and Ireland’s corporate responsibility manager

Green & Lean meal criteria

The ten criteria for Green and Lean meals are:

  • Plant-based foods account for at least two-thirds of the volume (g) of each meal
  • Animal protein accounts for no more than one third of the volume (g) of each meal
  • Fruit and vegetables are sourced according to seasonality
  • Refined grains are replaced with whole grains
  • No salt is added to the finished meal
  • Sugar is Fairtrade and added sparingly to meals
  • Dairy products that are lower in fat should be used
  • All fish is MSC certified, pork and chicken is RSPCA Assured, beef is British
  • All meals are served to standardised portion sizes

The trial forms part of Sodexo and WWF’s LiveWell collaboration and the meals meet the objectives set out in Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Plan.