Passing the baton

Matthew White, chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) and director of catering, hotel and conferencing at the University of Reading

The time has come for me to step down as chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), a position I’ve proudly held since 2016. Having stayed on past my expected tenure as a result of Covid-19, this year might not be what we expected, but I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the achievements made alongside the rest of the TUCO family.

These include the creation and launch of the first master’s degree course for public sector caterers in collaboration with London South Bank University (LSBU) School of Law and Social Science. One of the initiatives that will remain close to my heart is the support we provided Mary’s Meals; a charity providing life-changing meals to children in Malawi. In just three years, more than £100,000 has been raised for the charity.

Closer to home, my Reading colleagues and I spearheaded the donation of nearly £3,000 worth of goods to food banks and the NHS at the height of the Covid-19 crisis. It was also heartening to hear how many of my colleagues in the sector also supported local charities in their area.

I’m especially proud of the achievements TUCO has made with its procurement services. In the last financial year alone, we were able to deliver savings of almost £12 million to public sector caterers. Work which was recognised when members of the TUCO family won six Cost Sector Catering Awards and a Foodservice Cateys for Procurement Team of the Year in 2019.

I’d also like to thank the TUCO community for the support it has provided me over the years. It was this encouragement that undoubtedly contributed to me winning a coveted Catey Award in 2019 for Public Sector and being named a national finalist for the Institute of Directors, Non-Executive Director of the Year award. While I was privileged to win these accolades, it is only through my work with TUCO that I was in a position to even be nominated, let alone win.

Although I am stepping down as chair, I still intend to play an active role within the TUCO community and look forward to seeing the direction that new chair Phil Rees-Jones, director of commercial services at the University of Cardiff, will take the organisation in.

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