8th December 2023
Discover how North Lincolnshire Council is using Civica Catering Management software to meet some of its most pressing challenges head-on and safeguard citizens.
As head of catering and cleaning for North Lincolnshire Council, Sharon Ainsworth heads up a team responsible for delivering 3,500 meals each day across 30 primary schools and 100 hot meals on wheels for vulnerable adults in the community, all freshly cooked from scratch.
Sharon’s focus is on ensuring that the authority behaves responsibly when it comes to catering, particularly with regards to the environment and future proofing its activity. This includes working to help deliver the Council’s ambitious net zero target – North Lincolnshire Council has pledged to end its contribution to climate change and become carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of the national target.
Achieving those goals in spite of recent food inflation is no easy task but Sharon and her team have done just that with the support of Civica’s Catering Management software – improving visibility, efficiency and control for North Lincolnshire Council.
Meeting sustainability goals
Civica Catering Management provides paperless catering records and compliance, giving caterers the insight they need to order less stock, store less food and cut wastage through better planning and delivery. Better control of both stock and menu delivery means catering teams can introduce leaner ordering systems and reduce refrigeration/freezer use. They can tweak menus and use more efficient cooking methods, only cooking what they need, right down to individual ingredients.
Sharon said: “North Lincolnshire Council takes our approach to net zero very seriously. For me, being sustainable means thinking about the future and making sure that we behave in a responsible way, particularly with regards to the environment.
We’re constantly looking to reduce carbon and we’ve already eliminated single use plastics in catering operations. Most recently we’ve reduced deliveries too. We also use a lot of local produce to reduce food miles and all the meat we serve in our menus is British. It’s very important our suppliers and partners are behaving in the same responsible, sustainably way that we do.
“Civica Catering Management has been an excellent tool and particularly useful with the recent food inflation, which has made menu planning extremely tough. We've been able to, for instance, run a report at the click of a finger to show all of our recipes and sort ingredients by price.
“This system helps to ensure my team can produce a menu that's within our cost budget, that’s affordable to schools and parents, while at the same time producing a menu that's full of dishes that kids love to enjoy.
“It's no good producing a menu that our children won't eat. The success of Civica Catering Management comes in allowing my team to work in a swift manner, rather than having to go back to a long paper trail, manually looking at what things cost and making sure we've updated the pricing.”
Supporting dietary requirements
Civica Catering Management is also providing crucial in helping North Lincolnshire Council to meet the requirements of individual users with special dietary requirements, particularly in providing menus to children with medical needs.
Sharon adds: “Civica Catering Management is invaluable for individual menu planning. Take a child with Type 1 Diabetes or Cystic Fibrosis, for example, or somebody with a life-threatening food allergy. We get a report with the number of carbs, in grams, for each dish, and it takes us 30 seconds to produce that report. Or we can see that a recipe has an allergen and we look at what else we can provide in place of that.
“The data is reliable because it comes straight through from our suppliers’ database, so we don't need to update it, and if something changes, it automatically changes that product. Parents love it – and they feel really confident that we’re providing the right thing that their child needs.”
Reducing food waste
North Lincolnshire Council is also taking steps to reduce and reuse food waste, which is another goal as part of its wider sustainability approach.
With Civica Catering Management, caterers can identify exactly when and where food waste occurs, right down to specific times of the day. Armed with this information, clients can make more informed decisions to proactively tackle food waste, ranging from better stock control to managing portion sizes.
Sharon adds: “North Lincolnshire Council has council set an objective to send less than 1% waste to landfill, and that applies across the board, including residents’ waste and food waste from catering operations. We looked at reducing food waste about five or six years ago now, and we also work with a company called ReFood. All of our food waste now goes off to ReFood and is converted into energy that goes into the national grid. In the last few years, we've created enough energy to heat 10,000 homes.”
The value of community meals
The vital role that the Council’s catering team plays in supporting its users is particularly evident in community meals provision.
Sharon adds: “Social care is absolutely vital and we’ve had the community meals service for a few years now. The food is lovely, but as a caterer it pains me to say that the food is almost incidental – what’s more important is that our drivers are going into the homes of vulnerable people every day and if they see anything that concerns them, it gets reported back. The family get a call and we've potentially saved a life.
“We know this is welcomed from feedback we've received and for me that's what local authority is all about - caring for our residents and making sure they're safe. It allows people to stay in their home longer because they have a hot meal delivered, they get to see a friendly face every day and also have a wellbeing check to make sure that they're okay – all made possible thanks up front to our catering team. You can’t put a price on that.”
Improved menu management and cost control
Reliable allergen and dietary data for parents
Reduced food waste
Head of Catering and Cleaning,
North Lincolnshire Council
This system helps to ensure my team can produce a menu that's within our cost budget, that’s affordable to schools and parents, while at the same time producing a menu that's full of dishes that kids love to enjoy.
The data is reliable because it comes straight through from our suppliers’ database, so we don't need to update it, and if something changes, it automatically changes that product. Parents love it – and they feel really confident that we’re providing the right thing that their child needs.