Why food education matters more now than ever before
Knowing where food comes from may not seem essential to some.
Why know how to grow a courgette when you can simply buy one at the supermarket?
But is that attitude sustainable in a world with rising costs, rising temperatures, and rising global insecurity?
A recent study suggests our knowledge about food in the UK – how it is made and where it comes from – is limited.
25% of children surveyed said they thought strawberries grow underground.
You may be tempted to blame the parents – 20% of them could not recognise a courgette.
These figures are not designed to attack anyone, but they highlight the point, there is a knowledge gap.
School Food Matters
Founded in 2007, School Food Matters was born out of a grassroots campaign led by a parent appalled by the food served at her children’s school. The campaign went on to transform school meals for 38 primary schools in the London borough of Richmond, moving them from frozen food made in a factory in Wales to freshly prepared meals made on site from quality ingredients.
For more than 15 years, the charity has been campaigning for all children to have access to healthy food during their time at school whilst delivering a diverse range of fully-funded food education programmes. School Food Matters works in all London boroughs and in cities throughout England, and to date has worked with over 76,600 children in more than 800 schools.
School Food Matters at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023
“At School Food Matters, we are passionate about getting children outdoors learning how food grows, growing food themselves, cooking simple recipes, and even selling their produce at market.
“We see every day the impact it has – on learning, health, and wellbeing. That’s why we want all schools to have a garden. All these benefits for children, let alone the environmental benefit if all these green, planted spaces are introduced into communities.
“We ultimately want to help create a healthier generation, that values food and where it comes from, and knows how to feed themselves and their future families.
“This is the mission we’re taking to Chelsea, with our beautiful child-centric garden. 80% of the plants will be edible, and the garden features earthen walls covered in the written inspirations children have said they get from being in nature.”
Stephanie Slater, Founder & Chief Executive, School Food Matters
Stephanie is Founder and Chief Executive. After 20 years working in film production she took a break to enjoy time with her two children.
In 2007 she set up School Food Matters and in 2012 was invited to join the School Food Plan’s expert panel, tasked by the DFE to create an action plan to help head teachers improve school food. Stephanie is Vice-Chair of Sustain and a trustee of Alexandra Rose Charity.
Chantelle Nicholson, Chef & Owner of Apricity Restaurant
Chantelle Nicholson is a multi-award winning chef, restaurateur, author and advocate. She is the founder of Apricity restaurant, in London’s Mayfair, which celebrates conscious cooking and joyful dining, which gained a Michelin Green Star in 2023.
Chantelle is an advocate for seasonality and sustainability, championing veg-forward cooking through both her restaurants and her cookbook, Planted.
Originally from NZ, and a trained lawyer, Chantelle is committed to creating a more sustainable and holistic future across her operations and activities, whilst also being an independent board member for ReLondon – moving London towards a more circular economy – a member of City Harvest’s Food Council, and an advocate for many other charitable organisations.
Linde Stael, Sustainability and Foundation Manager, Belazu
Linde is Sustainability and Foundation Manager at Belazu, a food manufacturer for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients for chefs and home cooks. Linde engages people in sustainable, social, and educational projects.
Through collaborating on different organisational levels, she sets up strategies to improve communication, reduce food waste, increase supplier engagement, achieve carbon reductions, and set up events and projects.
At Belazu, the chef-grade ingredient company, she’s reduced food waste by 10%, secured their B-Corp Certification and much, much more.