Over the last six months, our team in Southwark & Lambeth have been working in partnership with the Soil Association and Phoenix Primary School from the Mayflower Federation, Southwark, on an exciting project to explore new ways to help support healthy eating culture in schools. The Soil Association, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, have been working with six schools in the London boroughs of Southwark & Lambeth trialling different solutions based on the individual needs of the schools. On 11thJune, we joined them for their Lambeth & Southwark Food for Life Programmeworkshop, at Cambridge House in Southwark, to celebrate the schools’ achievements in making healthy eating easier for their pupils, hear about their work and the impact it has made.
Phoenix Primary had been making some great progress making changes to help inform healthier choices in the lunchroom, such as changing the way food is presented to encourage pupils to choose a more balanced plate. However, there was a need to make a better connection between what the pupils were learning about food in the classroom and what they eat at lunchtime.
The pupils representing Phoenix decided to compliment the positive changes already in place with a series of healthy eating assemblies to be run by the pupils themselves. These were designed to create a constant and current conversation around healthy eating in the school. So far, the pupils have held assemblies; presenting a ‘taste challenge’ to encourage peers to try new vegetables; discussing why you should ‘eat a rainbow’ at lunchtime; and introducing a healthy eating poster competition. These assemblies are not only a great way for pupils to learn about the benefits different foods have on their bodies and why that’s important but are a fantastic opportunity to empower pupils through peer learning.
As lunchtime is often a bit of a rush, the school observed that pupils weren’t aware of all the options available at lunch. To try and tackle this, the Food for Life lead teacher for the school, who teaches a year three class, used ISS’ picture menus in the classroom so pupils could see all of the choices available at lunchtime. The teacher also used this as a platform to talk about the health benefits of the vegetables served, encourage pupils to try new vegetables and eat more colourful food across the week. Throughout the trial period pupils from this class chose more balanced plates and ate significantly more vegetables, both cooked and from the salad bar. Following such a great result, the classroom lunch menu presentation will be trialled across the school.
The findings from this project from all schools will help inform how the Soil Association tailors the national Food for Life framework to meet local need and help tackle childhood obesity. We’re thrilled that ISS is involved in this project as it supports our belief in sharing best practice to help improve school food for everyone.
Pictured: Pupils from Phoenix Primary and Clare Clark, Food for Life Served Here Development Manager – London