Lunch bunch: Flavio Hernandez and Tim Baker are looking forward to cooking for the Charlton community

Nobody likes a good breakfast like 853‘s special correspondent MERCURY MAN. He’s tracked down a school in Charlton that knows the way to a good education is through the stomach – and is going to be sharing its menu with the local community every Saturday from 16 November.

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Three pounds. Three quid. Half a dozen 50p pieces.

That’s all you’ll have to pay for a nutritious breakfast, including drinks, at a Saturday café launching in Charlton on – make a note of the date – November 16.

That £3 is for adults. For children it’s £1. A quid.

There’s lunch too, at £3.50 (children £1.50), the menu including slow-roasted pork loin served with its gravy, apple sauce and roast root vegetables. Plus car parking, a playground for kids and the secret garden.

Such an offer, such an idea, could only come from one source. Not the local branch of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, but that wonderful haven of healthy eating, Charlton Manor Primary School in Indus Road.

The school is already famous as the spiritual retreat of Jamie Oliver, Raymond Blanc, Levi Roots and others, and is the undisputed leader of the UK schools campaign to place healthy food alongside learning by living in the curriculum (Ofsted, sadly, can’t find a box to tick on the subject).

“The campaign started at Charlton Manor just after I became head in 2004,” said headteacher Tim Baker. “Jamie Oliver came to Greenwich in 2005 to start his school dinners campaign and we got involved straight away. It was then that I realised how important food and the right nutrition is for everyone but in particular the growing body. Since then Raymond Blanc has visited, Jamie came back in 2015 and Levi Roots visits regularly.”

And now, from November 16, the Sweet Pickings café will be open every Saturday for breakfast from 9am and lunch from 11am-2.30pm. “Sweet Pickings came about so that the school could actively support families in providing healthy food at a reasonable price and help tackle obesity,” said Tim. “It was also to make it convenient and ideally stop parents buying from local unhealthy food outlets.”

No names were mentioned, of course, but you don’t need to be Ronald McDonald to work it out. Much better to get into the habit of going by bus or hot-footing it to Indus Road.

“There will be staff serving and if it gets busy then this will increase to meet the demand,” said Tim, who added: “It would be great to welcome Charlton fans for lunch when the team is at home!”

The school’s award-winning chef Flavio Hernandez will be in charge of the kitchen and visitors will be welcomed into the spacious school restaurant.

Charlton Manor school
The school has a long track record of healthy eating initiatives

For the few of you not yet acquainted with the Charlton Manor healthy eating revolution, Tim Baker was the keynote speaker at the first conference on childhood obesity in Dubai, and he has also spoken at the European Conference on Nutrition in Dublin and at many Westminster briefings.

Parents, staff and the children have got the point over the years. “They are all very supportive of the ethos and are very knowledgeable around healthy eating,” said Tim, who has also just started a charity called Roots4Life, which will take an area that will be developed as a community garden with football pitches, a teaching kitchen and café to bring the enjoyment of cooking and healthy eating slap bang in the middle of the community.

“Flavio has worked in many top end restaurants, including the Sugar Club with Peter Gordon,” said Tim. “He is always seeking ways to make food not only healthier but also tastier.He is innovative and makes his own seasoning and stock as well as tomato base.

“He is a pastry chef and a baker and makes his own bread daily. Flavio is regularly out in the school garden picking herbs and produce for the dinners. He joined Charlton Manor in 2014 when he was picked to come and join the successful food ethos at the school.

“We’re about encouraging lasting and sustainable change to the way we all think about food, our communities, our environment and our health, using surplus food, reducing food waste and using healthy cooking techniques

“We sell own home produce seasonally, including honey, fresh eggs, jams, pickles, homemade ketchup, fresh vegetables, fresh baked bread plants and more. We also do takeaway at Sweet Pickings, so bring your own container and get a discount. Seniors get a 50 per cent discount on all products.”

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Discounts? They gotta be kidding? See you there!

Keep in touch with developments on Twitter at @charltonmanor or visit

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