Catering has a direct impact on every facet of campus life. Whether it is fuelling minds for the classroom or bodies for the sports fields, food is a significant pillar of daily life at Bradfield. In fact, our caterers produce over half a million meals every academic year with 4.5 tonnes of produce arriving on site daily. 

With the introduction of an environmental strategy, the College is focusing on sustainability and our catering team is playing a vital role in those efforts. Through menu engineering and buying organic produce they are able to support the local economy and through waste management, own grown initiatives and sustainable design they are aiming to minimise their impact on the environment. Here Rob Pynegar, Catering Manager, explains how his team are bringing the six principles of sustainability in foodservice to Bradfield. 


Since bringing the catering operation in-house two years ago we have built an increasingly local supply chain to acquire organic produce and now all our milk, meat, vegetables and eggs are produced within the surrounding area.

Beechwood Eggs is a family run business supplying us with eggs from just seven miles away. Fruit and vegetables are sourced from family run greengrocers, Fletchers and Fisher of Newbury, the latter sourcing from farms across Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Both our local butchers, Vicar’s Game and Thatcham Butchers, are also family run and source from the surrounding counties and the quality is second to none. The same can be said of our new Dairy supplier West Horsley Dairy.

We also have to be realistic. Geographically we are far from the coast but by using Gloucester based New Wave Seafood we can ensure that our fish supplies are sourced from Cornwall, one of our nearest fishing ports, and sourced sustainably.



When we think about the food that we offer, seasonality is key as is our responsibility when sourcing stock, not shipping it from overseas when it is available locally. We engage heavily with the pupil body through the catering committee so that they have a say in our direction.

As we move from winter to spring, we begin to offer more variety in fish because this is the season where a lot more is caught but that will drop off after the summer. Asparagus is about to come into season so that will appear on our menus more.

Beyond seasonality we know we can still source locally. Our suppliers have warehouses full of apples from the autumn harvest and, while not in season, they are being stored and kept in the right conditions and come to us locally.



The way we look at both organic produce and menu engineering enables us to support the local economy. We have a sizable operation which produces over half a million meals every year and our local support is two-pronged.

As an employer we provide jobs for over 600 staff located within the surrounding area but also, being in control of our supply chain means we are contributing to the local area more than we ever were before. We work with local farms and producers which in turn boosts employment within their businesses too. We are fortunate to be situated closely to Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire all of which are known for fantastic produce so to be able to support the local economies while getting quality food in return is good business.



For us, waste management is always going to be a work in progress and it is an area in which we are engaging with pupils, educating them so that they can actively impact it. The Sixth Form, and in particular the JCR as part of their sustainability initiatives, are looking at plate waste, making sure those coming for meals only put on their plate what they are going to eat. They have been presenting to their peers to make them aware of the impact of food waste on the environment.

On the operational side we manage production waste. Through batch cooking we are able to manage demand as we move through the busy periods when each year group arrives for their mealtime.

Collectively, through our production management and the pupil-led campaign, we are aiming to reduce our food waste by an initial 10% on last year. That would help save the equivalent of 28,687 kilograms of carbon emissions every year which is a significant amount from just one school food operation.


In practical terms we are doing small things such as growing herbs in the gardens a few footsteps from the kitchen. We can do more and are looking at a number of initiatives to put in place over the coming months and years.

We are assessing the potential to plant fruit trees on site, the potential to keep bees in the surrounding wooded areas and harvest the honey while those bees pollinate other plants and crops that are being grown for us to use.

As we drive food wastage down, we are looking at the elements of the remaining waste which are compostable. The compost will then be used by our grounds and gardens teams to benefit what they do.



Sustainability is embedded in the choices we make with regards to equipment, repairs and maintenance. That began with the refurbishment two years ago. The previous dishwasher was over 12 years old and technology had moved on leaps and bounds since then. Our new dishwasher recycles its own heat which goes into drying the plates, uses a third of the water of the old unit, in turn requiring lower amounts of chemicals, and requires less power to run.

We rolled out LED lighting throughout the servery and dining area and the Main Hall, which is over 150 years old, has had new insulation put in as part of that process to ensure it is more efficient to heat.

In each of these choices, whether it is equipment or structural, we are looking at new technologies and making practical decisions to ensure we get the best possible outcome with an eye on sustainability and the future.