We believe that improved health, social and cognitive development, cannot be achieved without good nutrition. Poorly nourished children cannot grow and develop optimally, resist infections, learn to their full potential or overcome social, emotional or behavioural difficulties. For this reason, a huge amount of importance is placed on the diet at Hopedale.
Our menus are skilfully devised to offer the highest levels of nutrition to both residents and day pupils. Throughout the day, many opportunities to meet the ‘five a day’ target are presented to the children. We know that persuading some children to eat fruit and vegetables can be difficult. With this in mind, we use creative techniques to pack as much of these foods as possible into our menus – sometimes hidden! E.g. our Spaghetti Bolognese contains at least two portions of vegetables, but tastes the same as the standard version which contains only one! Homemade, fresh fruit milkshakes can add another portion of fruit to the diet. If you look at the sample menu below, you can see that we encourage the children to pay attention to their own ‘five a day’ target too.
But it’s not just the nutritional aspect of food that we think is important. We believe that sharing and enjoying eating experiences with other, whether it’s just a snack, or a three-course meal, is an excellent vehicle for social development. That’s why we set up the Hopedale Bistro, which provides a comfortable, social, and atmospheric environment for dining.
Because we know that many children enjoy gardening, we have our own market garden, which provides some of the fruit and vegetables used to create meals at Hopedale. If we grow enough, we can even sell a small amount of produce at the local farmers’ market! The process from ‘seed to plate/market’ can be extremely rewarding and support the growth of self-esteem.
While residential pupils eat breakfast in the Hopedale Bistro, our day pupils receive a ‘take-away’ breakfast during their journey to school, or on arrival. ‘Take-away’ breakfasts contain fresh fruit juice, a high fibre cereal bar, a piece of fruit and a small pastry.
At the weekend, our residential children can choose to eat a full English breakfast, and of course, have a Sunday roast with all the trimmings!
The chef is very keen to listen to children’s views about their meals, and endeavours to include requests wherever possible.