Chartwells, an education specialist of the contract food and support services multinational Compass Group, is gearing up to foray into school food services especially in the private schools segment in India in a big way with a nutrition-first food solution. The Indian subsidiary is already present in about 12 high-end schools across the country. Post-Covid, the provider is building on the appeal and awareness for healthy food and eating habits among schools and parents.
Junk and processed food has led to mindless eating and poor food choices among most children in India, which unfortunately is home to second highest number of obese children as well as about 1/6th children population being deficient in micronutrients. Upon this Indians are generally known to have Vitamin B12 and Omega3 Fatty Acids deficiencies. Chartwells India through its school food solution is hopeful of tackling these challenges with its launch. Chartwells Proprietary Nutritional Guidance Platform that has a comprehensive taxonomy of macro, micro nutrition data and allergens for all ingredients by dish and menu. This scientifically designed food solution has been developed with an in-depth understanding of students’ unique nutritional, developmental, emotional and social needs.
Paying attention to food choices of children rather than adult food, conveying proper food language through presentation and cafeteria setting for look-feel experience are some of the details that have been paid attention in this offering. As 50% of the food is consumed by a child in a school on a normal school day, the nutritionists at the company have developed calorie –specific recipes. The company has an in-house R & D team along with dieticians to test and develop newer recipes on a regular basis.
According to Paramita Bagchi, CFO and MD Designate at Compass India, Compass India’s newly launched Chartwells food solution will help Indian K-12 schools in that journey with a comprehensive approach that will create a new, strong relationship between children and heathy food. “A child can be a change agent and become a healthy eater for life if his or her food habit develop appropriately at the school age,” she adds.
Sneaking in goodness of food with a layer of taste, variety, color, comfort are strategies applied to make healthy food with appeal by the chefs. “Making food visually attractive to children, proper ambience where children feel in their own fun world, food sessions, stories around foods, food clubs, socialization over food, internationalization of food through introduction of foreign cuisines, child friendly cutlery are some of the aspects that we are integrating for this solution,” adds Arjyo Banerjee, VP-Culinary & CPU.
Pariksha Rao, Compass India’s partner nutritionist comments, “Children are social eaters. It is extremely important to leverage the formula of stealth health within the K-12 segment. This project is a result of continuous culinary innovation at the Compass Innovation Kitchen, where food is prepared using healthier ingredients, techniques, and processes that work in the background without compromising on taste and flavour. The Chartwells solution aims to positively impact children’s lives, educate them to understand food and the importance of nutrition, while helping them adopt healthy eating habits even as they grow out of school.”
As part of its experiential learning program, Chartwells India expands the food exposure of children through new immersive experiences like Teaching Kitchen, Farm to School program, and Food Club. These offer a platform for students to explore food & nutrition knowledge and connect to the concept of ‘eating right’ while encouraging palate development and appreciation for healthy food. It offers the goodness of traditional Indian digestive sciences inculcated as part of the menu design. It also aims to instil a passion for cooking among children of all genders from an early age. The pricing is as per the services and add –on features. As per the statement of the company at the core, the purpose of this solution is to transform the school café experience for children in India and help create lifelong healthy eaters. “It is not just about changing the school food (menu) but to positively influence the very relationship children have with food and how children can become change agents for a healthier and sustainable planet.”