The Epsom College catering team returned to the College in earnest at the end of the first national lockdown, faced with the monumental challenge of feeding 1,025 pupils and over 400 staff members in a Covid-safe environment. Here is a short video taking you behind the scenes of one lunchtime. Below, Head of Catering, Mrs Bev Spencer, tells us how her team have tackled the new challenges.
“The team had to adapt quickly to a very new way of working,” says Mrs Bev Spencer, Head of Catering. “With 52 team members to keep safely distanced, a catering team bubble system was introduced with three separate shifts. This included the addition of an overnight shift, from 9pm until 4am, to ensure the required food was prepped and ready before the College community woke up.
“In order for meals to be safely served, without risk of contamination at the point of serving, we started using sealable containers. With our battle against single use plastic in mind, a mountain of biodegradable cups, meal pots and cutlery was purchased.
“Breakfast and supper were fairly easy to plan; we could continue to safely use the Dining Room and took over Main Hall for additional seating. This meant that all boarders could have hot breakfast and supper, whilst maintaining their year group bubbles.
“Lunch was a much bigger challenge. We have 1,500 people to feed across five areas, to ensure year group bubbles continue to be isolated. We implemented a pre-order system, so all pupils and staff can get their meal choice and waste is kept to a minimum.
“Lower School pupils have their own dedicated serving area in Hart Smith Hall, and other year groups have collection points around the College.
“Finally, a ‘Grab and Go’ operates in the tuck shop, where lighter lunch options can be selected including sandwiches, salads, soup, sausage rolls and pasties.
“I have an exceptional team of staff, many of whom have changed their lifestyles to cover the night shifts, and adapted their way of working to ensure we continue to feed the pupils and staff nutritious and varied meals daily.”