Multiple complex needs met by dedicated team
This blog was created by Peter Bartholdy, Catering manager for Sodexo at Doncaster Deaf Trust. Sodexo provides catering services for the Trust which owns and manages a nursery, school, college, employment unit and care home (for school age children). The facilities are dedicated to assisting people with a broad range of disability including Deafness, Autism and Downs Syndrome.
Mealtimes can be stressful for those with complex needs and communication difficulties but my team rise daily to the challenges our customers face.
We address more than 50 different dietary requirements every lunchtime. Some relate to religion, some to medication, others to allergies or students’ have specific preferences for certain types of food and set ways of presenting it.
All of my team are fully trained to manage epileptic fits and all customer facing staff have level 1 British sign language qualifications. Food service assistant (FSA) Joanne Robson is studying for her level 3 British sign language qualification (level 3 is interpreter standard) to help her to communicate with students.
Monthly theme days, when the team dress up in different topical costumes, are very popular with teaching staff and college management and often lead to the students trying foods they normally wouldn’t.
I am very proud of what we do here. We have been here for over 25 years and both the client and customers do value what we do. We are well and truly integrated into the life of the college. That’s what they value us for. We are not seen as a contractor, as somebody who just provides a service and charges for it. We are part of the college. The students have even contributed to the restaurant which is decorated with photographs and woodwork from college students. Agriculture students collect any food waste and compost it to use on the flower beds around the site and some students studying catering have worked with the onsite team and then gone on to get other employment in the trade.
We feel proud because we’ve played a part in their success and they come back to tell us about how they’re getting on. It’s great that they want to share their successes with us. We are all very interested in their wellbeing. One girl has just let me know she has passed her driving test.
The team is proud to support the students:
Chef Helen Murtha:
“I like making things that make people happy. It’s a nice feeling; to feel you have made a difference. “The kitchen is the heart of a home and it doesn’t matter we’re here in a college. Everybody from different parts of the college all meet here together.”
FSA Joanne Robson:
“Sometimes it is stressful but I just love the students. “One girl will only ever have turkey or ham and she doesn’t have any language so it’s a question of concentrating on where she is looking to ensure I give her what she wants.”
FSA Claire Duffy:
“It’s way more rewarding and has taught me there’s really nothing for me to moan about in life. “I love it here, working with this team and the whole lot.”
Our client is very supportive of the work we do:
The college executive principal, Alan Robinson, has said: “I know I can depend on the Sodexo team to provide for my students’ individual needs, as they do for me.”
Phil Carter, Trust HR manager, said: “Sodexo are part of the fabric of the Doncaster Deaf Trust providing us with a first class catering service 365 days of the year. “The staff are wonderful, professional in their approach and always willing to please.”
When the college received an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted, the inspectors said: “The catering team is highly skilled and knowledgeable and delivers special and complex diets. The vast majority of students say that the standard of food provided is very good and food is of high quality.”