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Jeanette Orrey MBE Joins Cityserve for the Day – 1st September 2016

Published: Wednesday, 20th July 2016

Jeanette Orrey

We are delighted to confirm and welcome Jeanette Orrey as our very special guest speaker and participant at the Annual Cityserve Conference – which will held on Thursday 1st September at Villa Park.

I’m sure that Jeanette needs no introduction to many school ‘foodie’ readers and colleagues – but please do take a look at Jeanette’s biography below:

Jeanette Orrey worked in school meals catering for over twenty years. The majority of this time was spent as Catering Manager at St. Peter’s Primary School, East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.  In 2000, rebelling against the poor quality of centrally supplied ingredients, she chose to bring catering at her school back ‘in-house’, sourcing as much local, organic and Fairtrade products as she could.

In 2003, Jeanette co-founded Food for Life, a programme to encourage schools to return to meals cooked from scratch, and ensure the catering team becomes more integrated within school life.

Food for Life was also about showing children were their food came from with farm visits, teaching children how to cook and how to grow their food.

Together with Patrick Holden and Lord Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, she attended meetings with numerous senior figures including the Policy Advisors for the Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair. Jeanette also teamed up with Jamie Oliver around this time, and together they set about campaigning to raise the public awareness of the poor state of school dinners.

From these early beginnings, the Food for Life Partnership was created, funded by the Big Lottery Fund.  It is now a highly successful national programme which works with over 5,000 schools in England transforming their food culture.  Jeanette now works more or less full time as the

Co-Founder of Food for Life and travels around the country talking about what has been achieved and encouraging other schools to implement Food for Life programme.

Jeanette was also a Board member of the School Food Trust when it was first formed in 2007, attending high level board meetings and advising on a range of issues which formed government policy.  

In 2007 Jeanette designed, and was a Director of, the Training Kitchen at Ashlyn’s Organic Farm in Essex, which sought to inspire and enthuse catering staff into confidently producing school dinners for children.  She was also instrumental in setting up a second Ashlyn’s training kitchen at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

In 2005, Jeanette published her first book, ‘The Dinner Lady’, which went straight to number 2 in the non-fiction best seller list.  She has since followed this up with ‘Second Helpings’ a further collection of healthy recipes ideally suited for children and families.

Jeanette has won numerous awards, primarily an MBE in 2011 for her services to school food.  Other awards include an OBSERVER Food Award for the ‘Person who has done the most for the food and drink industry’; BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award Best Public Caterer; Glenfiddich Independent Spirit award (shared with Jamie Oliver); Good Housekeeping Award for Outstanding Contribution to Food; Guild of Food writer’s Miriam Poluni Award for work on Healthy Eating.  In 2013 she was one of six people shortlisted for the Daily Mail Inspirational Woman of the Year award final.

Jeanette continues to travel around the country visiting schools and meeting with school catering teams, head teachers, and invited to speak at various conferences.  She also launched the Food for Life Partnership Roast Dinner day in 2009, which has become an annual celebration event for schools to serve a freshly prepared seasonal and locally sourced roast dinner and invite in their local communities.

Jeanette has also worked abroad and in 2007-20013 worked with organisations from Sweden Denmark and Italy showing how Food for Life and school meals were working together the report Food for Thought was published in 2014

In 2013 she was invited to be a member of the School Food Plan Expert Panel by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent she’s now a member of the Workforce Task group, Standards Task group and the Reference Group looking at implementation of Universal Free School Meals.

She is also a member of the APPG meeting in House of Commons on a regular basis keeping school meals and food poverty on the agenda.

In 2015 Jeanette was asked to be a commissioner on Food and Poverty with the Fabian Society this report was launched at the end of 2015

2015 Edu- Catering Lifetime Achievement Award

2016 Co-Chair School Food Plan Alliance