On Wednesday 27 April 2016, 15 schools in Warwickshire received awards from national school food programme – Soil Association Food for Life – in recognition of their commitment to serving healthy, fresh meals and providing pupils with the opportunity to cook, grow and visit farms.
The ceremony took place at Ryton Organic Gardens, home of Food for Life national partner Garden Organic and was the culmination of a year’s work on the Food for Life programme, which has been supported by funding from Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Public Health. The awards were jointly presented by Dr John Linnane, Director of Public Health at Warwickshire Public Health and Food for Life Local Programme Manager Bret Willers.
Dr John Linnane said: “Healthy eating is just one contributor to reducing the risk of disease in later life. The Food for Life programme is more than just the food on the plate – it has you cooking, growing food and understanding where food comes from. These aspects of the programme lead to far wider health outcomes than simply healthy eating – they extend into keeping you physically fit, having fun, socialising and improving positive wellbeing and relationships.”
He continued: “During the last year we set the Food for Life programme a target of supporting 15 schools to achieve a minimum of a bronze award. This has been achieved and I am very proud to be able to present of all the Warwickshire schools who have worked so hard to transform their food culture.”
On the day, schools had the opportunity to share their Food for Life learning, with each school giving a short presentation. Ali Hine, head teacher at The Dassett CE Primary School shared her experience of the Food for Life programme saying:
“We were delighted and very proud to receive our Bronze and Silver FFL Awards. It was the culmination of an extremely exciting and rewarding year which saw changes throughout every sphere of school life. A whole school approach has been completely embraced and there are new policies, practices and committees. The flight trays have gone, the cooking and gardening clubs are thriving and are producing more and more delicious organic fruit and veg than ever. We hold farmers’ markets, go on farm visits, host community gardening weeks and much more besides!”
She continued: ”The Food For Life experience has been so incredibly rewarding for everyone in and around the school community, the children are so engaged and enthused with healthy eating and we are excited to be continuing our journey and working hard toward the Gold Award.”
After enjoying a buffet lunch, guests participated in a range of activities that typified their Food for Life work, including a tour of the gardens and a cooking workshop led by Programme Manager Bret Willers.
Bret said: “It was wonderful to spend the day with schools that are seeing the wide range of benefits of prioritising food education: self-esteem, wellbeing, the acquisition of key life skills and plenty of fun which has a knock on effect on pupil progress.”