Everyone at Mellors is celebrating after our Big Red Bus project scooped the Innovation Award at the prestigious Educatering Excellence Awards 2019!

Hosted by Educatering Magazine, a national publication concentrating on the education catering industry, the event was held at London’s Royal Garden Hotel on Tuesday 8th October. Some of the Mellors Head Office Team, including the project’s key people, Danielle Watkins (Head of Food and Nutrition) and Carol Regan (our superstar bus driver) attended the Awards and were delighted to be able to collect the award.

Voted for by guests on the night, the Innovation Award sought to recognise a new concept, product, service or process that had contributed to the highest standard of school catering.

Mellors Big Red Bus, our vintage London double-decker bus, has been kitted out as a complete mobile catering unit. The project sees the bus visit schools with Mellors catering to give pupils a completely unique lunch experience. The Big Red Bus has currently visited 20 schools and served more than 4,000 pupils. During the school visit, pupils learn about where food comes from, the benefits of healthy eating and the best bit of all they get to enjoy a delicious hot meal cooked by our very own Chef! Teachers, governors and parents are all welcomed aboard too and there is a real sense of community presence at every visit.

Deb Bacon - Chief Operations Officer at Outwoods Primary School - one of the first schools to host the bus, was delighted with the visit,

“Mellors catering took it up a notch when they arrived on our school sites with the Big Red Bus. The children were so excited to have the opportunity to take a lunch on the bus and enjoy the innovative environment. We saw an increase in take up of school meals with some children who are always packed lunches taking a hot meal to take part. Some of our children have never been on a bus and certainly not the iconic red London variety. It certainly created a buzz around school for all of the children. The whole experience of handing in their bus ticket to come on board and the activities made it truly enjoyable for the children and something they were talking about for days after! Parents also commented on how innovative the idea was and we hope that the Big Red Bus will be back to see us again soon.”

The bus is set to attend another 36 schools by the end of 2019, serving over 14000 pupils and we are so proud of the project’s achievements. Not only are we teaching these pupils about nourishing their minds we are making food education fun and something they will remember for a lifetime. One of the things we didn’t forecast was how many pupils have never been on a bus! Let alone a double decker! Seeing pupils’ faces when they step on, ring the bell and have a photo in the driving seat is priceless and makes every school visit worthwhile. Speaking at the awards evening, Danielle Watkins (Head of Food and Nutrition) said,

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are absolutely over the moon to have won this award. The Mellors #BigRedBus project is reaching out to children all over the North of England and the fact that the audience voted for us to win made the award even more special. Every day is an incredible adventure with our bus, and it was fantastic to have got external recognition for the hard work and effort that has gone into the project.”