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Our school catering service apprentice wins national award for project to reduce food waste in schools

Published: 2 November 2021

One of our school catering service apprentices has won a national award for his work to reduce food waste in primary and junior schools.


Jo Rinkevicius wins national LACA award 1
Our school catering service apprentice Jo Rinkevicius receives his award from National Chair of LACA Jacquie Blake and former Chair Stephen Forster.

Jovaras Rinkevicius has been awarded the Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Award at the LACA (Local Authority Catering Association) Awards for Excellence 2021.

Jo (23) was selected as the winner of the category by a panel made up of recognised professionals from across the school catering industry.

The award recognises an apprentice or trainee who has successfully carried out a recognised training programme which has been implemented and endorsed by colleagues and has ultimately improved client satisfaction.

Jo was celebrated as the winner of this category in recognition of his development of a food waste reduction initiative during his paid internship with our catering service in 2019. The internship was run in partnership with the University of Derby and contributed towards Jo’s Professional Culinary Arts BA degree in June 2020.

During the placement Jo ran the food waste initiative across several Derbyshire primary and junior schools – in one school successfully reducing waste by 12 per cent.

Jo, who lives in Buxton, said:

“I started the food waste reduction project two years ago when I was an intern at Derbyshire County Council and a student at the University of Derby.

“Looking two years into the future, I would never have imagined that the project would be such a success and that the industry would have supported the idea in reducing food waste in primary schools to the extent that they have.

“Winning this award means so much to me and I hope to go onto greater things within this line of work in the future.”

Jo submitted his food waste reduction project as his Professional Culinary Arts BA degree dissertation and credits it with helping him to gain First Class Honours. He now works in our school catering team as a business services administrator Level 3 Apprentice.

Our Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Alex Dale said:

“I’m delighted that Jo’s important work to reduce food waste in schools has been recognised by professionals from across the catering industry with this prestigious national award. We congratulate him on his amazing achievement and are so proud to have him working with us in our school catering team.

“I know Jo saw our apprenticeship advertised on a notice board during his third year at university and I’m so pleased that he took that opportunity which has now resulted in not only his own personal achievements but also in improvements for our service and the industry which we will continue to develop and build on.”

Jo’s award comes hot on the heels of our school catering service being awarded the Best Use of Technology Award at the 2021 Foodservice Cateys.

The service was celebrated as the winner of this category in recognition of its implementation of a new IT system across its 225 primary and junior school kitchens which helped to keep children, including those from the most vulnerable families, fed during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic and helped them eat together safely as schools reopened.