Food Matters Live has partnered with School Food Matters in an ongoing collaboration to support the charity’s efforts to improve access to healthy, sustainable meals and better food education for young people.
The award-winning charity, now celebrating its 15th birthday, has had fantastic success lobbying to reform and improve nutrition in schools, and has reached more than 55,000 pupils with its education programmes, such a farm visits, cookery classes and creating vegetable patches.
The charity donated healthy breakfasts to one million vulnerable pupils during the COVID lockdowns when schools had to close, and campaigns loudly to offer free, nutritious hot school meals to children from low income families.
Briony Mansell-Lewis, Managing Director of Food Matters Live, says of the partnerships: “We at Food Matters Live are delighted to be working with School Food Matters raising awareness among children and young people of the importance of the role of sustainable and healthy food, and the significant part that the wider food industry plays in the future of food and nutrition.”
To kick off the partnership, Food Matters Live’s audio team took the Career Conversations podcast series on the road, meeting teachers and pupils at Whitefield School in Barnet, London, to hear about the young entrepreneurs programme that teaches children about the food industry from a young age.
Fresh Enterprise is a programme created by School Food Matters in partnership with leading food brand Belazu, giving young people the exposure to the food industry Belazu’s founders never had, and giving them the chance to compete against one another in a Dragons’ Den style challenge to create and market a real product.
“There are schools which deliver great food, but there’s still work to be done as we’re aiming to make sure all children eat well at school, no matter what their circumstances,” says Rachel Copus, Partnerships and Programmes Officer for School Food Matters. “And also, beyond that, we’re hoping to educate a new generation of children about food and the industry at large. We want to help inspire and create the health champions of the future.”
“We really appreciate this opportunity to talk about food education and better access to healthy food at school to such an important audience, spanning all sectors of the food industry,” Stephanie Slater, Founder and Chief Executive of School Food Matters, comments. “What we eat when we are young is so important – determining our chance to grow and learn, to live a healthy life, and hopefully to know the pleasures of good food. We hope our focus on delivering a broad range of food education programmes, as well as campaigning for access to healthy food for all children in school, is inspiring.”
It is the first time that the Food Matters Live Career Conversations podcast series has been broadcast on location as it gears up for a national tour which will see host Elisa Roche meeting graduates, founders and industry experts in front of a live studio audience.
“Recording at a bustling London school and then heading onto the noisy shop floor of a factory where they bottle olives, was challenging but great fun, and good practice for our upcoming live tour,” says chef and podcast host Elisa, “I was so impressed by the two boys I interviewed whose passion and fantastic level of knowledge about food shone through. It’s a real credit to their teacher Adele and it made me feel hopeful that he issue of skill shortages in this industry will be tackled. I would fully back Adele’s suggestion to turn Food Studies into an A level.”
Linde Stael, Foundation and Sustainability Manager at speciality ingredients company Belazu says that she and her colleagues get as much out of the brand tie-in as the charity and the pupils involved.
“We genuinely enjoy it. My colleagues say they always like to give something back and it’s inspiring to see children coming through the doors so excited. And maybe if we think really long term, who knows, we might have someone that’s interested in working here one day. At the moment, the food industry is struggling to find new talent so we hope that this project makes children realise that there are great opportunities.”
School Food Matters starts recruiting new schools to its Food Enterprise programme in late November. Early in the spring term the winning schools attend a production tour of the Belazu factory, followed by a cooking masterclass and marketing workshop for the product they have invented before the Easter holidays. Each school then faces a nail-biting judges’ tasting panel before the winning product is chosen to go into production.
School Food Matters runs hands-on educational programmes for children of all ages throughout the year, from its Schools To Market tie-in with Whole Foods Market’s charity Whole Kids Foundation to its Young Marketeers Winter Soup Project in association with Borough Market and The Felix Project.
Listen to the podcast to find out what happened when Careers Conversations met the students who won the latest Fresh Enterprise competition and went on a tour of the Belazu Factory: