DO you remember being served mashed potato with an ice cream scoop?

How about eating a bowl of sponge cake with bright green custard?

Do you have fond memories of the dinner ladies who would serve you every day in the school canteen?

It's national school meals week – a whole week dedicated to the canteen food that keeps children well fed at lunchtime while they’re school.

Gone are the days of turkey twizzlers and chips every day followed by sponge pudding and custard.

They’re now tasty, nutritious and carefully planned each day by hardworking kitchen staff to appeal to young appetites and hungry tummies.

Youngsters can now enjoy tasty and nutritious meals that are prepared fresh each day with mouth-watering options like chicken korma with naan bread, spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread and roast dinner with all the trimmings on the menu.

They’re prepared by dedicated kitchen and canteen staff across Wirral courtesy of catering company Edsential, which provides thousands of meals a day and millions of meals every year in more than 100 schools across Cheshire West and Wirral.

The menus run on a three-week cycle and support sugar swap and juice free days as well as meat free Fridays and there is always freshly baked bread, seasonal vegetables and salad followed by fresh fruit and organic yogurt available.

They’re a real hit with hungry children taking a break from the classroom with youngsters in Early Years and Key Stage One entitled to free school meals every day.

They even have themed days throughout the year to enable children to try cuisines from around the world or celebrate special events like World Book Day.

National school meals week, which runs between November 6 and November 12, is an opportunity for school caterers to shout about the fantastic work they do every day of the school year.

It celebrates the tireless efforts of school kitchen and canteen staff who continue to serve up great tasting, nutritious food to school children despite increasing pressures amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Wirral Globe: A sample week's menu served at Childer Thornton Primary SchoolA sample week's menu served at Childer Thornton Primary School (Image: Edsential)

To celebrate national school meals week, we spoke to catering supervisor Vicki Clynch who works at Childer Thornton Primary School.

Vicki started her school catering career as a kitchen assistant eight years ago at Wolverham Primary School and moved to Edsential in 2018 – she’s never looked back.

Vicki said: “With Edsential, I have been given so many training and development opportunities - from accredited courses and qualifications to one to one in-house training by my catering supervisor at the time, building my skills and confidence.

“This support from Edsential means I have been able to progress to the role of catering supervisor, running my own kitchen at Childer Thornton Primary School.

“There is no better feeling than seeing children cheering when their favourite meal is on the menu or returning their empty plates at the end of service with full tummies.

“It’s even better knowing that the food they’re getting is high quality and nutritious.”

Edsential menus differ between schools as they allow children to vote for their favourite meals ensuring that the balanced dishes on offer are ones the youngsters are going to enjoy.

Wirral Globe: Roast dinner is a popular dish on the school dinners menuRoast dinner is a popular dish on the school dinners menu (Image: Edsential)

Vicki said: “My memories of school dinners include turkey twizzlers and lumpy custard but with Edsential the menus we prepare are made from scratch by us every morning, with fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from the local butcher, and home-baked biscuits and cakes, with less sugar than ever - even the children can’t tell!

“Our roast dinners are made with beautifully cut joints of meat and fish Fridays, made with sustainably sourced fish, are firm favourites with the children.

“They especially love that their meals are made using only sustainable palm oil and learning that they are doing their bit to help protect the rainforest and save the orangutans.”

Edsential is always looking to add to their catering teams at Wirral schools, with school-hours contracts suitable for parents whose little ones have just started school.