Pupils from schools across North Yorkshire had a great time when they got together at Allerton Court Hotel to mark the end of the two-year Food for Life project in the county.
Food for Life is a Soil Association national initiative and its aim is to encourage pupils to make good food a central part of the school day. Key elements of the programme include providing healthy meals and good food education, as well as increasing pupil understanding of where their food comes from with farm visits and practical cooking and growing.
At the celebration event at Allerton Court Hotel, pupils took part in four food and physical activity themed workshops delivered by project partners, helping to cook delicious recipes from ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ chef Nigel Brown and getting active with North Yorkshire Sport.
Applegarth Primary, Romanby Primary, and Trinity Academy in Richmond have all gained Bronze Food for Life Awards and were presented with their certificates by county councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for public health, prevention and supported housing, and county councillor Janet Sanderson, executive member for the children and young people’s service - supported by HERBIE, the healthy-eating carrot.
The latest schools to achieve their bronze award join another 11 from across the county who have already earned their awards during the first year of the project. Clapham primary has gained a silver award through lots of growing and cooking in school and by developing a whole school food policy to ensure a consistent message about healthy eating is promoted.
Cllr Dickinson said: “This is a fantastic achievement and the schools who have achieved their Bronze Award can be very proud of themselves.
“They have all worked very hard to deliver the Food for Life programme, using the children’s ideas about how to improve their lunchtime experience at school, such as reducing queues and noise levels in the dining room. The schools are now growing and cooking more of their own produce.
“Pupils have led assemblies on healthy eating and sustainable food sourcing such as Fairtrade, and taken part in after-school healthy cookery sessions with their parents and carers.”
Cllr Sanderson said: “Helping pupils to lead a healthier lifestyle in North Yorkshire is one of the key aims in the Young and Yorkshire children and young people’s plan, ‘ensuring a healthy start to life, with more children and young people leading healthy lifestyles’.
“Food for Life enables pupils to learn about the origin of their food and why eating good food, along with having an active lifestyle, really matters.”
The North Yorkshire schools Food for Life project has been funded by the council through its public health grant. During the 2016-2018 academic years, North Yorkshire County Council’s energy and sustainability traded service has provided hands-on tailored support to 22 schools in the county to help them to achieve awards and increase cooking and growing in school. All schools in North Yorkshire have been able to access the Food for Life programme independently and attend local training to support them. More than 70 school staff have received free practical training in cooking, growing and taking pupils on farm visits.
Another successful part of the programme has been to take 90 pupils to two farm days where they learn about food and farming through meeting the farm animals, herding geese and pigs, making butter and discovering the differences between alpaca and sheep wool.
Funding the Food for Life initiative and encouraging North Yorkshire schools to take part in the programme is part of the county council’s commitment to tackle childhood obesity, one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
To find out more about the national Food for Life programme, go to www.foodforlife.org.uk/schools.