The 1,000 girls at Swakeleys school near Heathrow airport in Hounslow are used to elections. They have several every year to vote for senators (form reps), committee members (finance, public relations, canteen) and senior officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary). With an active and highly organised school council, people who run the school - such as Janet Edwards, the catering manager -have a ready-made focus group to consult.
Debates about fresh food and healthy eating have been encouraged by Janet Edwards since long before school dinners came under Jamie Oliver's scrutiny. She's been at the school for 16 years and her kitchen is famous among pupils for its "wonderful aroma of home baking", says deputy head Janice Howkins, who nominated Janet for this week's flowers, champagne and chocolates.
Swakeleys school dinners are "the best food ever", a mixture of traditional recipes as well as salads, pasta and curries, cooked by Janet and her excellent team. Through the uniform, transport and canteen committee, she has regular discussions with girls about menus and bright ideas for changing the school culture around food and snacks. Recent votes have led to fizzy drinks being removed from the vending machines and girls agreeing to have "sweet-free days".
"Janet's cooking is a hit with everyone," says Ms Howkins, adding that at a recent reunion of old girls they asked for a takeaway of chocolate cookies because "home baking never quite tastes as good as Janet's". At the breakfast club there's a queue round the block from 8am.
Janet is also a school governor and keeps members up to date with the healthy-school policy.
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