Care home has taste for success with food prize

Christine McKee with the award and fresh veg. Picture: Julie Bull

Christine McKee with the award and fresh veg. Picture: Julie Bull

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A CITY care home has become the first in Scotland to receive a prestigious catering award – after a dedicated chef enlisted the help of residents to 
redesign its menus.

Christine McKee, a senior cook at Clovenstone Care Home, holds monthly meetings with the home’s elderly inhabitants to find out about their favourite dishes, before cooking them up from scratch.

The grub has proved a smash-hit with residents and their families, with some even begging the skilful chef to share her secrets.

And her talent has now been recognised by the Soil Association, which has awarded the home its Bronze Food for Life catering mark.

It is the first Scottish care home – and only the second in the UK – to receive the accolade, which recognises caterers’ commitments to serving meals that are fresh, seasonal and better for animal welfare.

Judges were also impressed with a gardening club run by the home, which sees residents help grow nutritious vegetables such as courgettes, broccoli and onions, which one ready are sent directly to the kitchen.

Ms McKee, 46, of South Queensferry, who has been in the job for two years, said: “I feel very strongly about making an effort and caring about doing the best job possible for our residents as they have to come first no matter what.

“We have meetings with the residents to find out their likes and dislikes and we discuss if they have any old recipes or old favourites that they would like to see on the menu. I always use this to make up the nutritionally balanced menus with the help of our dietician.

“We get really good feedback from residents and their families about the menus and from the care staff. I have also had residents’ families asking for the recipes of some of the 
puddings.”

In November 2012, the city council agreed to work with Edinburgh University and NHS Lothian to pilot using the Soil Association’s catering mark standards to promote sustainable food. The three organisations joined together to increase their buying power and influence the availability of more local and sustainable produce.

Currie High and Buckstone Primary have also been recognised with the award after being chosen as test sites for the initiative, which has also been adopted in locations including East Lothian, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Highland, Stirling and Fife. Clovenstone Care Home and the schools will work towards the gold award and the scheme could then be rolled out throughout the council if it is deemed to be a success.

Laura Stewart, director of the Soil Association Scotland, said: “Food plays an essential role in our health and 
wellbeing throughout our lives, and it is vital that those in residential care service settings can enjoy fresh and tasty meals.”

daniel.sanderson@edinburghnews.com