Championing our campus caterers

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

This term should be a packed-out conference and event season, delivering a robust catering revenue.

While the impact of Covid-19 has meant the cancellation of these events, we can take some solace in the many positive initiatives that are taking place. I have been extremely impressed by the rapid response and adaptations being made, and the way in which we have come together as an industry to help our colleagues across the NHS and social care. I have been moved by stories of universities and staff supporting local communities and students who remain on campus. Early on as TUCO Chair I developed our #TUCOFamily platform to help amplify our values as a membership organisation, and it is this spirit of selflessly helping others which continues to impress me.

At TUCO we continue to support our members with new initiatives and adapted programmes. If you are not a TUCO member but would like support and advice please get in touch, we would be delighted to welcome you to the TUCO family. We want to help the industry benefit from the expertise of our members. Our TUCO forum has provided an invaluable and safe digital space in which advice and knowledge is shared from those who have risen to the challenge of recent weeks.

Leveraging the collective buying power of TUCO membership is one of our greatest strengths. In fact, during 2018-19, members spent more than £146m through TUCO’s procurement frameworks and overall, we secured £16m in savings. Our CIPS-qualified team continue to help members achieve value for money. We have also introduced a new Procurement Surgery initiative. This development enables members to work alongside a TUCO Category Manager to review their procurement strategy in light of the pandemic.

The professional development TUCO offers its members is also still available. It has arguably never been more important to keep skills up-to-date, and indeed the Government is encouraging furloughed workers to boost skills via online training. We therefore have created a brand-new series of TUCO webinars which cover topics from strategic and effective working, to delegation and motivation. These are free of charge to members. We are also offering a variety of e-learning courses and we have made 20 free places available to full members on our Food Hygiene and Food Hygiene Allergens courses.

These are challenging times but with challenge comes innovation, and I have no doubt we will come through this in a stronger position than ever to deliver excellence in hospitality. In the meantime, keep well, stay safe and keep in touch.

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