Need some help?

Frequently Asked Questions

My child does not like some of the dishes on the special menu, can I ask for the menu to be amended?

Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate personal preferences as part of the special diets process, as this can cause confusion for our teams and increase the risk of error where special diets are concerned. We keep things as simple as possible to keep pupils safe.

My child is only allergic to wheat not all gluten?

We produce over 30 different types of menu for children requiring special diets for medical reasons. Unfortunately, we are unable to split down the GF menu any further at present - it would become unmanageable in our kitchens. This may change depending on demand, and we'll update you if it does.

My child can have baked egg as an ingredient but not raw or whole?

We offer a loose-egg special diet for pupils with this type of allergy.

Can I provide my own products?

Unfortunately not - our menus meet the requirements for most allergen-free diets, and we have to stick with our own protocols re cross-contamination, batch numbers, and known provenance.

Is the meat in my child's school Halal?

At present, we don't offer a Halal menu or serve Halal meat/meat products as standard. This is something we review periodically with our schools and their communities.

My child only wants lunch on a special promotional/theme day, what should I do?

City Catering has a strict allergen process that we follow for pupils who regularly have a school lunch. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individual allergen menus for children who only have the occasional meal. For each theme day, we produce an allergen sheet, and our team can pass this information to parents on request - allowing you to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, we will not be able to guarantee a specific meal, though we'll try to accommodate as much as we can.

My child regularly has an allergen-free school lunch, what happens on themed/promotional days?

The Head of Kitchen at your child's school will either ensure that the promotional menu is appropriate or serve your child a dish that is on their pre-agreed menu.

Why do I have to provide medical evidence?

Withdrawing a food group from a child's diet should always be monitored by a health professional. Doctors should be aware of relatively minor intolerances because they could be indicative of other intolerances. City Catering needs to be fully aware of potential symptoms and if necessary carry out a risk assessment. Medical evidence also ensures that we provide special menus for those who really need it, and not to accommodate personal preferences.

When can my child receive their special diet?

Our Food Development team will develop a bespoke menu for your child which will be sent to your school after 10 working days, once we have your application and medical evidence. Once the menu is approved by you, the school, and our team, we will inform you when your child can start eating a school lunch.

How will you identify my child?

We need to clearly identify your child when we serve them, to ensure they receive the correct meal. The process each school follows varies, but for most schools, children with special diets are provided with a coloured wristband or lanyard to wear, or a coloured plate. They may also be escorted to the service counter, or be served first in their year group. Please speak with your child’s school admin team for more information. Thank you.

Are your kitchens 'free from'?

We are unable to class our school kitchens as 'free from' because we prepare non-allergy meals in our kitchens too. But, we do prepare and serve special diets separately from other meals, and our school kitchens are all nut free, as standard.

Are your special diets compliant with school food standards?

Yes! Our menus are devised in line with School Food Plan and the stringent requirements of Food For Life.

How do you know what to include on my child's menu?

We consult with a paediatric dietician - Rebecca Jones - at Southampton Children's Hospital in preparing our menus. Rebecca joined our menu development team in June 2018. Graduating from King’s College London in 2002, Rebecca has specialised in paediatric dietetics since 2003. Rebecca completed an MSc in public health nutrition in 2012, and has been part of various clinical teams at Southampton NHS Trust; she currently leads the paediatric diabetes service.


City Catering Southampton
Second Floor, Latimer House,
5-7 Cumberland Place,
Southampton, SO15 2BH

© 2024 City Catering Southampton - A charitable company limited by guarantee, with its registered office at Second Floor, Latimer House, 5-7 Cumberland Place, Southampton, SO15 2BH. Registered in England and Wales, Company registered number 09331784. Registered Charity number 1160776.