Epsom College’s sustainability journey with allmanhall reaches a new milestone

Epsom College grounds

Overview

Independent School of the Year, Epsom College continues to lead the way in educating pupils about the carbon impact of their food, as well as making pupils’ dining experience more sustainable. Their journey began in mid June 2022, when Epsom College took the decision to increase the transparency and availability of data by assessing the carbon impact of their menus. This is made possible through an exclusive and pioneering partnership for the planet between the school, allmanhall and the award-winning recipe assessment platform, Foodsteps.

As well as making pupils’ dining experience more sustainable, they have been embarking on a journey to combine this with nutrition and dietetic information, to enable truly informed choices. And added a focus on waste reduction, too. Read on to learn more and for inspiration…

Background

Epsom College has now input and analysed 1000 recipes through Foodsteps. Those recipes with a lower carbon impact have been designated as ‘Hero Dishes’ and promoted to the pupils as  more sustainable options. Other recipes have been ingeniously re-engineered by the Epsom team, to reduce their carbon impact whilst maintaining the taste, texture, appeal and nutritional benefit of these dishes.

Epsom College chickpea curry

The journey so far… as of November 2023

One of the most effective methods of significantly reducing the carbon impact of a recipe is to reduce or replace the high intensity meat content, especially beef and lamb. The Epsom College Chefs have managed to do just this! Examples include: the reduction of the lamb content of a curry dish from 120kg to 80kg through the addition of sweet potatoes and peppers; the content of a beef lasagne was reduced and replaced with Quorn mince; a Ragu incorporated roasted winter veg and a meatball dish combined regular meatballs with innovative pea protein meatballs from Devil’s Kitchen.

The team have also switched to using Wildfarmed Flour for all in-house production. This flour is produced using regenerative farming techniques and is carbon negative. It is used for a variety of purposes including all home-made cakes and recently 4000
mince pies!

What’s happening outside the kitchen?

Epsom College recognises that the production of the core menus is just part of the journey, and with allmanhall’s support they have introduced a range of other super sustainable and innovative new products – which without exception have proven popular with the pupils.

All ketchup and mayonnaise have now been replaced by the ‘Rubies in the Rubble’ range of condiments. Their ketchup is sweetened using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste and contains less than half the refined sugar than other brands. Their mayonnaise is made using aquafaba, a plant-based alternative to eggs, so it is vegan and free from the main 14 allergens, as technically any food is an allergy.

Over 700 pack lunches a week now include Fairfields Farm crisps which are hand cooked and produced using 100% renewable energy. The school’s fantastic new Mermaid Café only uses the Notpla brand of takeaway containers. Where conventional containers have petrol-based coatings that stick around forever, this one has a 100% natural seaweed coating. Once finished, the whole package can be composted and disappears without a trace – just like a fruit peel.

Epsom College Arial Shot

Waste not, want not!

Epsom College is also tackling food waste in a big way, as in the UK we waste up to 1/3 of our food. Using helpful tools available online through ‘Guardians of Grub’ – Epsom College has monitored and recorded waste and identifies where it is most prevalent.

The findings were shared with the pupils’ Climate Committee, and a consultative approach taken to incentivise a reduction in plate waste.

What did the client say?

“We actually managed to achieve the reduction in meat content without the majority of pupils noticing. Wherever there is a ‘wet dish’ you can replace the meat with a selection of creatively prepared vegetables or pulses…or indeed a meat alternative such as Devil’s Kitchen.’’

– Andy Trowell, Executive Head Chef at Epsom College

“After much enthusiastic discussion, the pupils suggested that a favourite treat could be awarded for a significant reduction in plate waste – the vote decided unanimously for our homemade extra smartie cookie – and in the last week of November, plate waste was reduced by an amazing 178kg!’’

– Hannah Yeatman, Kitchen Compliance Administrator at Epsom College

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