Helen Dabreu is the chef at Anne Bernadt nursery in Peckham, and she’s passionate about great food. Around 70 per cent of the food she cooks with comes from FareShare and, with no state funding, it’s vital to keep their kitchen open.
There are 148 children in the nursery, with 80 full-time. Dabreu cooks free lunch for 40 children a day. “We’re managing to sustain the kitchen and FareShare really helps,” says Lynne Cooper, the head teacher. “Before, we were vegetarian, mostly down to cost. But now we have meat twice a week. The children are also given fruit three times a day.”
Lunch today is a seasonal curry with a side of roasted cauliflower marinated in soy, maple syrup and paprika marinade, alongside rice, parsnip crisps and bread. It looks delicious and as the children arrive for a sit-down lunch with cutlery and placemats, it’s wonderful to watch them tuck in. The benefits are myriad; as well as learning fine motor skills by using cutlery and serving themselves, they are also acquiring social skills, learning about healthy eating and, in some cases, enjoying the only hot meal they will have all day.
Dabreu is passionate about getting children into healthy eating (the 50 bags of spinach she received from FareShare last week were a joy).
“It’s important to grab them young. One mum insisted her child wasn’t going to eat any vegetables and he’s turned out to be the best eater. He’ll try anything,” says Dabreu, who now regularly gives parents her recipes.