Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Last Supper (Goodbye to CaterLink)

So after roughly 10 years, countless complaints, endless empty promises by successive School Councils and untold student (and staff) frustrations, Hampstead have finally taken the plunge and gotten rid of CaterLink, who, from the 16th of April, will no longer be responsible for catering at Hampstead. (Concerning who will be responsible for catering, the letter sent home to parents is no more specific than "in-house"). Naturally, we at The Trash join with the student-staff body in being ever-so-slightly overjoyed about not having to eat whatever it is CaterLink get away with serving every day, but serious questions, like is what comes next going to be any better? and why did it take them so long? still loom.

Taking a look at the letter (see below), several things stick out:

  • "The students have a more positive experience of lunching together" -- it would be generous to call this a mistake, it's more like willful ignorance or simply a lie. The canteen is abysmal, (literally) grey, noisy and overcrowded. It's utterly miserable. It's cold because there's no heating and the doors are always being opened, and they force you to take your coats off. When someone walks out, the doors often don't fully shut, so you get gusts of wind and frequent drops in the ambient temperature to go with your cold salad. It's a hassle to find seats and it's a hassle to stop Year 7s from taking them the moment you stand up. Importantly too, previously, for those not in the know, each year had a year room exclusively for their use at lunch and break. Unless I'm seriously missing something, a single year-room-equivalent for the whole school does not make it easier for people to share their lunches and break-times with each other (i.e. most likely people in their classes, their year) than year rooms do. Really, even if certain changes are beyond their control, the school should not be allowed to claim things are getting better when they are actually getting worse.
  • "New furniture and signage to help students make healthy choices at lunchtime" -- they should probably have someone read these things before they send them out to make sure it's not complete nonsense that students are taking home to their parents. It is not clear how exactly the furniture in the Canteen could affect what students choose to eat. Even regarding the furniture itself, unless catering equipment can now be classed as "furniture", there is no new furniture to speak of in the Canteen. In fact, the tables and chairs in the Canteen are direct imports from the old school building, chewing gum encrusted underneath tabletops and all. As for making "healthy choices", the healthiest choice one can probably make at lunch is to forgo whatever Caterlink have got on offer.
  • "More healthy and flavorful options on offer - much requested by the students who were canvassed on their views via questionnaires" -- it's not like students have been expressing their dissatisfaction with Caterlink for years on end; you don't need to do a questionnaire to know that almost (probably just everybody) everybody absolutely loathes their food.
  • "There will be changes in the menu choices offered" -- this we applaud unequivocally, so long as it is for the better. Perhaps the hungry citizens of Hampstead will finally get a taste of Justice and The Good.
It remains to be seen what exactly "in-house" means (are Management planning to set themselves up with a whole other set of jobs, managing a catering company, leading double lives?), but perhaps nothing much will change: the new food could be just as bad as the old.

DISCLAIMER: This is a critical article and so is comprised of the views of the author.

1 comment:

  1. Time to get rid of them from all the schools,tiny portions of horrid food .