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Two school children blending a source mixture
/ Career Conversations
/ Career Conversations

Inside the factory – the school kids getting a taste of the food industry

“We hope the students might go on to choose a career in food,” says Adele Louise James, Director of Learning for Catering and Technology at Whitefield School in Barnet, North London. “It’s a massive industry.”

“This project shows them the other side of food. Normally, when a student thinks about food they just think about a chef. They don’t know about all the other jobs that are involved.”

Adele is passionate about food and the jobs that the industry can provide in the future for her students.

In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, made in partnership with the charity School Food Matters, we learn all about the special project that is helping introduce school children to the wonderful world of working in food.

The Fresh Enterprise Project is run by School Food Matters in collaboration with the food manufacturer, Belazu.

It sees teams of students come up with their own ideas for sauces and pastes. They get to do everything, from choosing the ingredients, to naming their product and designing the label.

As part of the competition, they get to go on a tour of the Belazu factory to see how food manufacturing really works. And the winners get the best prize of all, seeing their sauce made, bottled and sold to real world consumers.

“We thought it was an ideal opportunity to get the students hooked into food and see where it could go,” says Adele, who tells us she was initially encouraged to get involved in the project by the Food Teachers Centre.

Rachel Copus, Partnerships and Programmes Officer at School Food Matters, says the project is designed to educate a new generation about food.

“It’s so cool to think you could actually make something that ends up on the shelf,” she says. “I would have loved to have done something like this when I was at school.”

For this episode of the podcast, we’ve sent our host Elisa Roche back to school to meet the students who won the latest Fresh Enterprise competition.

She also got her very own tour of the Belazu factory to see what the students experience, and met Linde Stael, Foundation and Sustainability Manager at the company.

“Schools love to come in and often I hear from the children that it’s the first time they’ve actually seen production from inside,” says Linde. “For children having that better understanding of one part of the food industry is a very valuable thing.

Find out more about the up-coming Food Matters Live careers event series

“The food industry is struggling to find new talent, so we hope this project helps children to realise there are opportunities in food.”

Listen to the full episode to learn more about the Fresh Enterprise Project, the incredible work done by School Food Matters, and find out all about this year’s winning sauce.

School Food Matters

School Food Matters’ mission is to teach children about food and to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable food during their time at school.

The charity provides fully funded food education programmes to schools. Its experience delivering these programmes informs and strengthens its campaigns, bringing the voices of children, parents and teachers to government policy.

School Food Matters was founded in 2007 by Stephanie Slater, a parent who was perplexed by the school food offered to her two small children; frozen food, unappealing and quite often unidentifiable.

In the 15 years since, nearly 55,000 children have taken part in its food education projects, but the charity’s work goes way beyond even those fantastic schemes.

It has a big focus on securing an extension to free school meal provision, making sure children have access to fresh good quality food at school, and re-instating the food A-level, the only GCSE that does not have its own A-level.

Belazu

Belazu was founded in 1991, under the name The Fresh Olive Company.

It was started by two friends, Adam Wells and George Bennell, who met at secondary school.

The company has grown from selling buckets of olives to a restaurant in Oxford, to selling a whole range of pastes, oils, truffles and snacks.

Belazu says one of its guiding principles is: The Ingredient is King. But it also has a big focus on how it works with the local communities it is part of.

As well as its work as part of the Fresh Enterprise project, it has established the Belazu Foundation which has helped to set up two schools in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

Whitefield School

Whitefield School is a secondary school and sixth form located in the London Borough of Barnet. 

Its Headteacher, Chris Hunt, says its purpose is to ensure it develops well-rounded pupils who achieve great grades and have great character.

Whitefield students are resilient and determined, focused and driven, qualities which are central to success.

Food Matters Live is delighted that our Career Conversations podcast series has been shortlisted for Education Initiative at the prestigious FDF Awards 2022.
Presented by restaurant critic and author Jay Rayner, the FDF Awards winners will be announced on Thursday 15 September 2022 during the annual ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.

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Rachel Copus

Contributor

Partnerships and Programmes Officer, School Food Matters

There is so much interest in the food industry at the moment. There's so much of a need to think about things like sustainability and to get a new generation of children engaged with it in the right way.

Rachel Copus