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Thomas Deacon Education Trust (TDET) makes significant environmental savings by switching meat for plants

Peterborough-based Thomas Deacon Education Trust (TDET) puts forward five schools to track the environmental impacts of reducing meat and increasing vegetables and pulses across their menus. The Trust already celebrate meat-free days but aspire to increase their vegan and vegetarian offers for the health of their pupils and the planet.

The challenge

TDET found that school lunches may be the only hot meal of the day for some students and so school caterers have a great responsibility to provide nutritious, quality meals within tight budgets and limited resources. They have to do this, while being considerate of the impact their menus have in the environment, as to continue to spread the importance of contributing to a more sustainable future.

Taking action

Within the creation of their menus, the catering team identified an opportunity to save costs and carbon by reducing the meat offering across the menu, replacing instead with carefully selected vegetarian and vegan options. By using the Cool Food Pro carbon calculator the team could track the amount of carbon that they have removed from the menu, as a result of their changes.

TDET used the CFP calculator to work out that approximately 5T CO2e savings could be made for each meat-free lunch service offered across the five schools involved in the project.

Michael upgraded Super Coordinator account made it very easy to distinguish between schools and account for their savings, separately and as a whole. This is an easier way to manage and track menu changes at a Trust level.

What happened next?

After using the Cool Food Pro calculator, Michael Dove, TDET’s catering manager,  said, “At first when the tool was introduced, I was concerned that it would create extra work for the cooks within the academies. But it is easy and not at all time-consuming for them to use. It also tracks the changes we make and can be used to advertise our efforts and savings. It is always good to show what we are doing to support sustainability across the trust.”

Michael has now committed to reducing meat portions by 14g in  meat-based dishes across the menus which will save a further 624 kg  CO2e over the school year. He has also put forward all five kitchens involved in the project for 1-2-1 food waste audit and training with the Cool Food Pro team.

Since reducing food waste by a simple amount of approximately 10g per plate can save up to £26 and 51 kg CO2e, getting the trust’s kitchen staff on board with food waste reduction will have significant impacts on both planet and profits.

TDET’s recipes are supplied by ProVeg UK, which has created 35 plant-based recipes to be supplied to primary schools. If you are curious about them, explore their School Plates programme.

Here is an example of a served vegan meal at one of their schools: spaghetti with homemade plant-powered balls (Ve).

After using the Cool Food Pro calculator and applying changes to our menus, we realised how quick and easy it is to use. It also tracks the changes and can be used to advertise this within the academies showing what we are doing to support sustainability across the trust.

Michael Dove

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