Sunderland schoolgirl dishes up dinners after winning cooking prize

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A Wearside schoolgirl has swapped the classroom for the kitchen after winning a competition to help serve up the day’s lunch meals.

Dame Dorothy School pupil Lily O’Reilly, eight, was the winner in a competition to become ‘cook for the day’ as part of regular promotional activities organised by Sunderland City Council to increase the uptake of the school meals service.

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly after winning the 'Cook for the Day' competition.

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly after winning the 'Cook for the Day' competition.

Regular theme days are held in schools across the city to encourage more young people to try the freshly cooked food on offer.

Lily’s jungle-themed menu included Hakuna Matata Wrap with Orangatan Dip, Fish and Chimps and Tiger Sponge with Amazon Custard.

Lily got the chance to get into the kitchen after winning a golden ticket.

The Year Four pupil joined kitchen staff, led by school cook Mariangela Volpe, to plan the menu, help prepare the food and then serve it to her classmates at lunchtime.

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner with Councillor Michael Mordey and head chef Mariangela Uolpe

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner with Councillor Michael Mordey and head chef Mariangela Uolpe

Lily said: “I’ve been very excited.

“I didn’t want to set the fire alarm off in the school by burning the pizza.

“I’ve made cakes and biscuits too and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Headteacher at Dame Dororthy School Iain Williamson added: “As a school we really enjoy working in partnership with the school meals team to deliver the theme days.

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

“Not only does it help to increase school meal uptake and encourage a nutritionally balanced diet, it provides something a little bit out of the ordinary which the children love.”

Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for city services, Councillor Michael Mordey, said: “School meal uptake across our schools has always been very high, and we remain amongst the best performing authorities nationally.

“We are keen to see numbers grow even further, because of the recognised health and attainment benefits which school dinners and the fresh, healthy food being served provides to our children and young people.

“The theme days in schools by the school meals team are a really innovative way of helping with this, and I hope Lily has enjoyed becoming part of the kitchen staff and seeing the imagination and hard work which goes into preparing the menus and cooking the meals every day.”

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

The Dock Street school, in Monkwearmouth, is one of 84 in the city where meals are provided by the council’s school meal service.

The team provide approximately 13,500 children a day with meals, which equates to around 2.4 million each year.

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner

Dame Dorothy Primary School pupil Lily O'Reilly 'Cook for the Day' competition winner