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Institutional eats

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London

Main courses yesterday: flaked cod and parsley sauce; cheese sweetcorn; lentil quiche; fresh homemade tomato and coriander soup; a selection of sandwiches. Dessert: apple crumble and custard. The kitchen alsos prepare food according to kosher and halal requirements. Robert Everest, head chef/kitchen manager, says that the dietary needs of every child are catered to individually, but that the main general menu is worked out to provide a balanced diet. The kitchen has a budget of pounds 1.71 per child to produce breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Campion Comprehensive School, Bugbrooke, Northants

A main course - meat, potato and vegetable - costs pounds 1.10, and a sweet costs 40p. Yesterday's main courses were meat and potato pie ("home-made, cooked on the premises", says the catering manager, Sue Nightingale), turkey ("we never serve beef, by the way"), and vegetable cutlets in a puff pastry. The sweet was treacle sponge and custard. The usual optional extras or alternatives were offered, too: chips, salads, ploughman's lunches, rolls and sandwiches.

Ms Nightingale says that prices represent approximately twice the real value of the food. She needs to run on a profit for the staff's wages and to pay the bills: the kitchen has no subsidy from the school.

City of London Girls' School (a private school), Barbican, London

For pounds 1.60 (pounds 1.20 for staff), pupils were yesterday able to choose between tuna and pasta bake and vegetarian sausage rolls, as well as a range of optional extras. The catering manager, David Winslade, will not disclose the profits his kitchen makes, but is more than happy to discuss the nutritional value of his food: his kitchen won the Heartbeat award for nutritional food in schools this year. It is not a puritan regime: on Fridays, for example, the menu includes a fry-up. But he always uses wholemeal flour and natural fruit juices, and always tries to get a high fibre, protein and polyunsaturate content into his dishes.