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Norwich School Blog

Lockdown Diaries: Darren, Catering Manager

In the second of our Lockdown Diaries we hear from Darren, our Catering Manager at Norwich School who tells us more about how the pandemic has drastically changed the day-to-day roles of whose who work in catering and how they have been helping feed the vulnerable in our community.

"I find myself in deep reflection of how different my world looks in comparison to this time last year and the journey that myself and my team have been on with the ever unfolding events of living and working with the effects of Covid-19. 

Lockdown 1.0 back in March last year seemed to come out of nowhere, the catering department faced the simple task of social distancing, little did I know at this point that this was the theme to come for the rest of 2020. 

Pre Covid-19 there was rarely a ‘normal day’; we face many challenges working in a modern school sat in the medieval grounds of Norwich Cathedral, feeding around 1200 for lunch Monday to Friday and we are often busy with events outside of feeding the school community lunch. My day would start with a meeting with our Executive Chef to discuss the prior day and any issues we may have had and then to talk through the day and what we have coming up in the week ahead with events planned.

During Lockdown 1.0 we spent significant time planning for the school to reopen to all pupils in September 2020 and we also began making and delivering meals to vulnerable people across the region. In order to provide our usual high quality service in a safe environment, we invested in four marquees to ensure we could maintain social distancing whilst providing lunches, which was rolled out during the Michaelmas term whilst the majority of pupils were in school.

Now in January 2021, deep into lockdown 3.0, we feed children of key workers at the Lower School and children at the Senior School as well as somewhere in the region of 50 adults supervising or teaching on-site and also the dedicated teams working to keep things running smoothly in the various offices in the school grounds. We increasingly rely on technology to communicate as a team either via group chats to keep in touch with my furloughed team or the many ‘Teams’ meetings that have crept in to my every day. 

Many of the furloughed members of the team have pledged their time, alongside a team of pupils, to help us make and deliver freshly made meals to several organisations that shelter or provide for those in need across Norwich. To date the catering team have cooked 8,500 meals that are then packed up by volunteers from the school and 8th Norwich scouts and then delivered to food banks and homeless shelters across Norwich. To put this into perspective if placed end to end the meals created and delivered by Norwich School would reach to the top of the cathedral spire over fifteen times, WOW!"