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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to provide medical evidence?

Withdrawing a food group from your child’s diet should always be monitored by a health professional. Education Catering needs to be fully aware of potential symptoms and, if necessary, carry out a risk assessment. We use medical evidence so that we can provide special diet menus for those who really need it and not just to accommodate personal preferences.

My child has multiple allergies, how do I apply for a special diet meal that takes account of their allergies?

Create an account and work through the application steps. You will be able to let us know your child’s allergies at Step 4 of the application process by selecting the box ‘Special diet not listed’. Please note that medical evidence will be required for all allergies/intolerances.

I have more than one child with food allergies/intolerances, how do I apply for more than one special diet menu?

Once you have created an account, you can easily add more children at any point by starting a new application.

Are Education Catering kitchens ‘free from’?

Due to the risk of contamination, unfortunately we are unable to class our school kitchens as ‘free from’. But, all our catering staff are trained in allergy awareness and food safety. So you can have complete peace of mind that your child is safe while eating a school lunch.

How are special diet meals prepared?

We prepare and serve special diet meals using different baking sheets, cooking and serving utensils. We will not use the same equipment or utensils to prepare other food items, without thoroughly cleaning them first. This will prevent cross contamination.

How will the catering team know how to identify my child at lunch time to make sure they receive their special diet meal?

We will provide the school with an orange silicon wrist band for your child to wear up to the service counter. They will be asked to hand this to the catering team member who is serving in exchange for their special diet meal. Also, we ask your school to agree to one or both of the following routes as part of our procedure to ensure your child is safe:

  • A member of school staff will take them to the service counter
  • A member of the Education Catering team will serve them first at the start of each sitting or year group

My child does not like some of the dishes on the special diet menu, so can I ask for the menu to be amended?

We are unable to accommodate personal preferences since this can cause confusion and increase the risk of error.

My child is only allergic to wheat, not all gluten. Can this be accommodated in the special diet menu?

We produce over 2,500 different menus for children needing special diets based on the 14 main allergens. We try to cater for all dietary requirements. And we do offer gluten free menus. But it would not be possible to manage a wheat free menu operationally.

Can I provide my own food or ingredients?

We will only allow food purchased from our nominated suppliers in our kitchens. This ensures that we avoid any risk of contamination across our food chain.

Will my child have the opportunity to take part when their school holds a theme day lunch?

When schools hold theme day lunches, a menu is produced for pupils, especially to tie in with the theme. Please let your school know in plenty of time if your child wishes to stay for lunch on the theme day. This will allow our catering team to contact our Food Development team. With them we can discuss an alternative meal that is suitable for your child’s special dietary needs.

My child only wants lunch on a special promotion/theme day. What should I do?

Our special diet team focus on feeding a healthy and nutritious lunch to children who have registered as having a special diet. We are unable to provide individual allergen menus for children who are not registered and only have an occasional meal. When a school holds theme day lunches, we produce an allergen sheet which will go to the kitchen. This allows parents to make an informed decision about whether the menu is appropriate for their child. The only exception to this is for Christmas lunch. There we ask you to complete a form in advance stating your child’s requirements, which we will endeavour to accommodate.

What if my child would like to eat a school breakfast or select an option from the school tuck shop?

Our special diet team focus on feeding a healthy and nutritious lunch to children who have registered as having a special diet . This means we are unable cater for specific special diets for schools that choose to offer a breakfast or morning break/tuck shop service. If you would like a full list of ingredients offered for breakfast or the tuck shop, please email our Food Development team at

Get in touch

Education Catering, Bar End Road, Winchester SO23 9NR

02380 629 388
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