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Jeanette Orrey, MBE

Jeanette Orrey, MBE

Jeanette Orrey joined Love British Food and British Food Fortnight as an ambassador in 2019. With plans to use her 20+ years experience with school dinners, cooking from scratch and buying British, Jeanette is a welcome addition to the team.  Jeanette said: "As well as championing British, local food, I am keen to encourage more schools to visit farms, as well as teaching pupils how to grow their own produce and understanding how food is produced.  Working with the team of Ambassadors at Love British Food I really look forward to support the British food and farming industry."


Jeanette Orrey started working in school meals in the 80s.

In 2003, Jeanette co-founded Food for Life, a programme to encourage schools to return to meals cooked from scratch, and ensure the catering team becomes more integrated within school life.

Food for Life was also about showing children were their food came from with farm visits, teaching children how to cook and how to grow their food.

Together with Patrick Holden and Lord Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, she attended meetings with numerous senior figures including the Policy Advisors for the Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair. Jeanette also teamed up with Jamie Oliver around this time, and together they set about campaigning to raise the public awareness of the poor state of school dinners.

From these early beginnings, the Food for Life Partnership was created, funded by the Big Lottery Fund.It is now a highly successful national programme which works with schools in England transforming their food culture.Jeanette now works more or less full time as the Co-Founder of Food for Life and travels around the country talking about what has been achieved and encouraging other schools to implement Food for Life programme. She has also travelled to America, Estonia, Italy, Sweden and Denmark giving conference talks about Food for Life and hosted visits with school meals delegates from China and Japan.

Jeanette was also a Board member of the School Food Trust when it was first formed in 2007, attending high level board meetings and advising on a range of issues which formed government policy.

In 2007 Jeanette designed, and was a Director of, the Training Kitchen at Ashlyn’s Organic Farm in Essex, which sought to inspire and enthuse catering staff into confidently producing school dinners for children. She was also instrumental in setting up a second Ashlyn’s training kitchen at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

In 2005, Jeanette published her first book, ‘The Dinner Lady’, which went straight to number 2 in the non-fiction best seller list.She has since followed this up with ‘Second Helpings’ a further collection of healthy recipes ideally suited for children and families.

Jeanette has won numerous awards, primarily an MBE in 2011 for her services to school food.Other awards include an OBSERVER Food Award for the 'Person who has done the most for the food and drink industry'; BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award Best Public Caterer; Glenfiddich Independent Spirit award (shared with Jamie Oliver); Good Housekeeping Award for Outstanding Contribution to Food; Guild of Food writer’s Miriam Poluni Award for work on Healthy Eating. Woman of the Year Award In 2013 she was one of six people shortlisted for the Daily Mail Inspirational Woman of the Year award final.

Jeanette continues to travel around the country visiting schools and meeting with school catering teams, head teachers, and invited to speak at various conferences.She also launched the Food for Life Roast Dinner day in 2009, which has become an annual celebration event for schools to serve a freshly prepared seasonal and locally sourced roast dinner and invite in their local communities.

In 2013 she was invited to be a member of the School Food Plan Expert Panel by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent she’s now a member of the Workforce Task group, Standards Task group and the Reference Group looking at implementation of Universal Free School Meals.

She is also a member of the APPG meeting in House of Commons on a regular basis keeping school meals and food poverty on the agenda.

In 2015 Jeanette was asked to be a commissioner on Food and Poverty with the Fabian Society this report was launched at the end of 2015

2015 Edu- Catering Lifetime Achievement Award

2016 ongoing Co-Chair School Food Plan Alliance

2019 - Love British Food & British Food Fortnight Ambassador