Catering CrewA project that teaches people with learning disabilities catering and business skills has won two awards for the quality of its food.

The Catering Crew has been awarded a Food Hygiene Rating of Five-Very Good with Bath & North East Somerset Council and a Gold Eat Out Eat Well Award.

Food Hygiene Ratings help consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, cafés, takeaways, hotels and food shops. The ratings are organised by the Food Standards Agency and local authorities.

The Eat Out Eat Well scheme rewards food outlets that provide their customers with healthier choices. It has three levels – bronze, silver, and gold.

The Catering Crew, which is based in the Connections Day Service in Radstock, Somerset, and run by service provider Sirona, provides buffets for corporate companies as well as wedding and christening parties across the local area.

Richard Holland, Sirona’s project officer with The Catering Crew, said: “To quote one of the Crew members ‘I think we have all done very well and we have done our best and it means a lot to me to receive a Five Rating and a Gold Award’.

“We are very proud of these achievements and pleased to show how well people with learning disabilities can excel with the right support and encouragement.”

The Catering Crew was established in the mid-1990s when four day service users were asked to prepare vegetarian food for a group’s regular meeting. From this, the group took their catering skills into the community and started to prepare food for local companies and events.

There are now 7 regular members of the Catering Crew. “Meals are produced in our specially designed catering facilities and are delivered and served to customers as required,” adds Holland. “The Crew continues to improve their practical and business skills from menu design to full provision of outside catering services at customers’ venues.

“They participate in control of the business accounting and developing, and each member is paid a session fee for their work with The Catering Crew.

“The vision of The Catering Crew is to expand the business to suit the developing needs and skills of each Crew member and to continue to provide quality foods and a profitable business.

“We also seek to become a training establishment for disabled people and other socially disadvantaged people to enable them to seek open market employment.”

Councillor David Dixon, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “These awards demonstrate their commitment to offering foods that are lower in sugar and fat and salt, and which are prepared in a hygienic environment – making them a really healthy choice. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Louise Lees, Sirona’s health improvement specialist, said: “It is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the talent and skill of all the staff at The Catering Crew’ in offering healthy choices as part of the catering services they provide. Often at weddings or corporate events people have no choice but to eat the food on offer. The Catering Crew offer real choice for their customers – congratulations to the whole team.”