Ashton-on-Mersey Champions On Styling Their School Menu
30 Jul 2023
Our dedicated young activists pulled out the stops to put salad back on their school’s menu in style.
Ashton-on-Mersey school joined Bite Back in Schools in September 2022 with a clear ambition: to create a school food environment that’s accessible to everyone.
Eleven eager Year 7s became Ashton-on-Mersey’s School Food Champions, led by Megan Fisher, their Food Preparation, Catering and Nutrition teacher.
Passionate about making positive changes from the very start, the team came second in our pledge competition — collecting 537 signatures to support their vision for a healthy, affordable and inclusive school food environment.
Their pledge echoed the School Food Champions’ feelings about their current school food. Some students said it was tasty and healthy, but there were few or no healthy options for students with allergies or religious requirements. In particular, one student on the team followed a halal diet whilst also having to avoid dairy, and found there were very few healthy options available to her at lunchtime.
To drive real, lasting change, the team knew they needed to get the catering team and school leaders on side. After weekly meetings with the Catering Manager, they all sat down with their Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher to discuss their ideas.
The School Food Champions shared findings from their school food audit, which included lunchtime observations, menu analysis, and interviewing their peers. Their conversation also revealed that salad had been taken off the menu a while back and was never reinstated. The team realised that a salad bar could be a very flexible option, providing healthy and tasty lunches to students with varied dietary requirements.
The Catering Manager agreed to run a one-week salad bar trial in the summer term. To make it as accessible as possible for every student to get a balanced lunch, the School Food Champions proposed a flexible offer: four vegetable options of their choice, plus a protein for £1.85. At this price, students who receive free school meals could access the salad bar and still afford a breaktime snack.
The School Food Champions team worked hard to spread the word. They promoted the salad bar in the newsletter and on screens around school, and discussed it in form time.
Their hard work paid off. On day one they sold an impressive 20 salads, but knew they could do even better. After surveying the students who bought salads, they received feedback that the salads were a bit dry. The catering team acted straight away and began adding olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sales rocketed and by Wednesday they were selling 70 salads a day — with twice as many people queuing for salads as for sandwiches.
It was such a success that the Catering Manager agreed to bring the salad bar back every summer term.
The Ashton-on-Mersey School Food Champions team are incredibly proud of the changes they have implemented around their school:
“We actually made something happen, rather than just thinking about it.”
Bite Back in Schools doesn’t just improve school food. It creates a sense of community, and empowers young people to drive positive change.
Alongside introducing delicious, healthy and affordable options in their canteen, the students in the Ashton-on-Mersey team have also grown in confidence and started their journeys as young activists.