Today marks the fifth International School Meals Day, with schools across the country celebrating the origin and wonder of food.
The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating patterns among school age children, not just today but throughout the year. This is something that we are passionate about and demonstrate through the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme.
As Food for Life Programme Manager for the County Council I am responsible for the delivery into schools, using money from NYCC’s public health grant to fund a two-year project which will see 20 schools in the county taking part in the initiative. The programme helps pupils to learn about where their food comes from through growing it, having cookery lessons, making farm visits and creating links with local food producers.
It’s a fantastic scheme that really gets children thinking about what they eat, how they can have a positive impact on their food choices and how they can be healthier with the food they eat.
Working on this programme gives me the chance to see a real positive change in attitudes and behaviours of children and helps the schools to achieve a nationally recognised award for all of their hard work.
By completing the Food for Life scheme, schools are awarded a kitemark from the Soil Association from Bronze to Gold. The first schools to take part are working towards achieving their Bronze award and I know it’s going to be a really rewarding journey for them as they increase their skills and knowledge.
The Schools taking part also contribute towards the County Council’s commitment to tackle childhood obesity – one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, with the programme enabling pupils to learn about the origin of their food and why eating good food, along with having an active lifestyle, really matters.
The programme has partnership with North Yorkshire Sport who are offering the schools involved free consultancy support to develop ways to increase fitness across the whole school. Each Food for Life schools has a different plan to improve fitness, for example all pupils and staff taking part the daily mile, developing nature trails around the school field to keep pupils moving and learning about athletes diets to accompany sports skills training.
In delivering Food for Life we also show pupils that eating healthy food does not mean eating expensively. By giving children knowledge of cooking and food science we are providing them with a life skill which will not only keep them healthy but save them money in later life.
If you want to get involved or to find out more, visit the Energy webpage and complete our form or get in touch with Ruth Stacey, Food for Life Programme Manager: