Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dinner Lady Earns Lunch with Charles and Jamie

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dinner Lady Earns Lunch with Charles and Jamie

Article excerpt

Byline: KATHARINE BARNEY

THIS is a dinner lady for whom Turkey Twizzlers are very firmly off the menu.

She is a school cook leading the fight against childhood obesity by serving up healthy, organic food, some of it grown on school grounds.

Tomorrow she will sit down to a meal cooked by Jamie Oliver and hosted by Prince Charles at Clarence House.

Rose Harper, of Millfields Community School in Hackney, has been recognised as among the best cooks in the country.

Mrs Harper and her headteacher will be among 120 guests invited to the royal residence for a celebration of her efforts.

Meals at Millfields are particularly healthy as nearly all the food is organic. The children also grow their own vegetables.

Catering manager Mrs Harper has been at the school for 40 years and has seen a massive transformation in the food served.

She said: "When I started here, we were serving up soggy cabbage and soggy potatoes. Then it was junk food and burgers like cardboard.

"Now, we still have burgers but we make everything from scratch.

We serve 500 children every day, we're very organised."

Headteacher of the school, Dame Anna Hussan, said the food was not only beneficial to pupils' health but also helped them concentrate.

Their small vegetable patch has become such a success the school is in the process of building a roof garden. She said: "Growing plants has been fantastic for pupils. We grew tomatoes out of a chimney pot and they got very excited when they saw the flowers. Then they saw the tomatoes and when they turned red ... oh my!

"It helps the children understand how things grow, then they can boil their own potatoes and add some herbs they have seen growing."

Also invited tomorrow is Judy Stock of Lilian Bayliss School, Kennington.

Her dining room has had themed menus, such as Africa Day as part of black history week.

Catering manager Ms Stock said: "It's about educating children and encouraging them to try a small amount of new, healthier foods they might not be used to. …

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