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 sweet and sour chicken and rice, 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 primary schools in Warrington, which provides thousands of meals every day and millions of meals every year.

Warrington Guardian: A sample menu for Warrington primary schoolsA sample menu for Warrington primary schools (Image: supplied)

The menus run on a three-week cycle 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.

To celebrate national school meals week, we spoke to Margo Fleming, who has worked in the school meals service for 17 years.

She started as a kitchen assistant before progressing to catering supervisor covering the whole of Warrington in the mobile team but has been catering supervisor at Oakwood Primary School for the past eight years.

Catering supervisor at Oakwood Primary School Margo Fleming

Catering supervisor at Oakwood Primary School Margo Fleming

Margo, who lives in Orford, said: “I love my job – it’s so rewarding to see the children enjoying the meals we’ve produced each day.

“It’s such a hard working and dedicated team here at Oakwood.

“There are so many popular dishes on the menu that it’s hard to say which children like best but curry, bolognaise and mac ‘n’ cheese as well as cheese flan and sausage and mash always go down well.

“The homemade cookies, sponge cakes and jelly are the tasty desserts on the menu and children always love pizza or sausage rolls followed by ice cream.

“We serve thousands of lunches each term and for some children, this is the only meal they’ll eat each day.”

The school dinner menus Warrington primary schools has a choice of three main options per day plus dessert and they offer meat free Mondays with vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Staff try to help pupils understand the different food groups and encourage them to try new foods as a means to maintaining a balanced diet.

Margo said: “School dinners have changed dramatically since 2005 when Jamie Oliver led a campaign to improve them, removing turkey twizzlers from the menus.

“Warrington Council endeavours to make 70 per cent of school meals from scratch, ensuring they’re nutritionally balanced, and they buy British Farm Assured products to ensure sustainability.

Margo has happy memories of school dinners when she younger

Margo has happy memories of school dinners when she younger

Margo added: “I am extremely proud of the council’s school meals service.

“I believe as a service we are highly motivated, enthusiastic and passionate about producing appetising, appealing, tasty food in a pleasurable, relaxed environment for the children of Warrington.”

What does Margo remember about her own childhood? Did she enjoy school dinners?

Margo said: “I remember school being a happy place where we could see our friends and my favourite school dinners were tatties and mince or fish Friday when we used to get chips.

“My happiest memory of school dinners is having pudding, which was always such a treat.

“My grandma was a kitchen assistant so if I was lucky, I got bigger portions when she was on service!”