Boutique contract caterer Edwards & Ward has won the school meals contract for north Somerset, securing the 58-site service from long-term incumbent Rentokil Initial.
The three-year contract, which has an option for a two-year extension, is worth £1.8m in annual turnover. It starts at Easter, covering primary schools predominately, as well as secondary and special schools.
Rentokil Initial's Eden Foodservice unit, which held the contract for nine years, put in a bid for the contract but pulled out at the shortlisting stage.
North Somerset Council is using a proportion of the funds allocated by the Government for school meals - £180,000 for the local education authority (LEA) as a whole - to subsidise the service and raise quality. School meals uptake in north Somerset has fallen to about 30% and 600,000 meals a year, compared with a national average of 43%.
The win catapults Edwards & Ward past the 100-site mark and will boost annual turnover to £5.75m.
Last May the caterer won the 56-site school meals contract for Wokingham, also previously held by Eden.
Food service consultant Chris Stern said it was interesting to see a boutique caterer pick up a large contract in the school meals arena. "This could be the start of a trend," he said. "Traditionally, LEA catering contracts have gone to in-house teams or one of the big caterers, as there's a high risk associated."
By Chris Druce