MBE for pioneering catering head Matthew White
31 December 2021
The catering head behind the delivery of sustainably-sourced meals to University of Reading students has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Matthew White, who is the Director of Campus Commerce at the University of Reading, has been appointed an MBE for services to the public sector catering and hospitality industry.
As the leader of the University’s catering services for the past 18 years, Mr White has overseen major improvements including the engagement with the Menus of Change initiative, which promotes innovative ways for universities around the world to serve sustainable food.
Thanks to his leadership, staff and students at the University of Reading now have better access to a range of sustainable, healthy and culturally appropriate food.
Mr White said: “I am very humbled as well as hugely surprised by this amazing award. I owe much of this honour to every one of my colleagues in the fabulous Campus Commerce team, and I want to say a huge thank you to them for their dedicated service, friendship, and ever-present professionalism and support. The work we carry out together week by week changes and enhances the lives of the people we serve in untold ways, across all of our various business units.
“This award is dedicated to all my colleagues who are on the front line of student and staff experience here at the University of Reading, and the award is for us all in recognition of the work we as a team do.”
Professor Carol Wagstaff, Research Dean for Agriculture, Food and Health at the University of Reading said: “Despite the challenges of managing the welfare, support and diet of several thousand students living in halls throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Matthew has driven forward the University of Reading engagement with the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, led from Stamford University in the USA.
“The two things were in some ways interlinked; whereas other UK Universities were clearly struggling to maintain a supply of fresh, healthy and desirable food for students isolating in halls, Matthew’s team was singled out as ‘remarkable’ by the BBC Food programme for the service they provided.
“Matthew’s commitment to ensuring that our entire catering operation provides both staff and students with an array of sustainable, healthy, culturally appropriate food choices led to external accolades and our membership of Menus of Change University Research Collaborative. The University of Reading is the only full member of the Collaborative in Europe, quite an achievement when one realises that a number of high-profile institutions have had applications rejected for not ‘walking the walk’ in terms of linking their research activity with what is actually provided on campus.”
Mr White served as Chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) for five years, stepping down from his role in 2020. During his time as Chairman, he set up several initiatives including the TUCO Academy, an MA in University Hospitality Operations and the Chairs Charity, which the TUCO family have donated over £120k to in school feeding charity, Mary’s Meals.
Mr White’s leading role in public sector catering has been recognised with a number of other awards.
In 2019, he won the coveted Catey Award for Public Sector and was a regional winner and then national finalist for the Institute of Directors’ Non-Executive Director of the Year award. In 2018 he was awarded the CESA Foodservice Industry Order of Merit and Cost Sector Catering’s Public Sector Award.
In the same year under Mr White’s stewardship, TUCO and its members won six Cost Sector Catering Awards as well as a Foodservice Catey for Procurement Team of the Year. Cost Sector Catering magazine named him among the ‘Top 20 public sector most influential’ for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Read more about how the University supported students with fresh, nutritious food when they had to self-isolate during the Covid-19 pandemic.