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Shocking school food, what can we do?

I was shocked when I received an email with this picture of a state school Christmas dinner. Like most people I realise something must be done, wonder what, WE, can all do? ‘We’ because this has been going on for years with little or no government action. Please read on

I was Shocked by:
1. How a school meal could get this bad after influencers; Jamie Oliver & Marcus Rashford
2. How quickly the picture became viral and was featured on the BBC website
3. Every piece of food on the plate looked factory farmed & heavily processed, no ‘greens’
4. How bad school budgets and training must be

At BigBarn we have been blogging about the importance of improving food and food education in schools for over 10 years. 2011 Blog here. We ran a hugely successful project in 2012 that was eventually dropped by the school because “it was not on the curriculum”. Video here

cooking and sharing

We believe, and have seen, that if every school had food growing, cooking and nutrition on the curriculum meals like the picture above would never be produced, and if they were, be rejected.

This is because once kids understand food growing and nutrition and are allowed to get involved in school meals they influence what is served and even grow food for the school. A win-win for the quality of school meals, school budgets, and health.

If the school can also team up with local farms, shops and local people it can become the centre of a sustainable, caring, inclusive, community with many more ‘wins’ for all.

The good news is that quite a few schools followed our Crop for the Shop in schools project, and unlike the school we worked with, finessed the curriculum to include food.

One school has put food at the centre of every academic subject, has a veg patch for every classroom and every child is like a ‘foody Greta Thonberg’. The head teacher even told an Ofsted inspector to b**ger off when reprimanded for not enough focus on Maths & English.

fresh healthy home grown food

So what can we all do?

At BigBarn we will be running a project in 2022 to visit schools and make ‘how-to’ videos on how they overcome the many barriers to become the centre of their food community. The barriers of; curriculum, teachers, parents, funding, growing space, community building, linking to farmers, caterers, school meals, etc.

These videos will then be categorised in a ‘Knowledge database’ on the BigBarn website, as well as made available to all, like our Local Food Map, via API feeds.

If you would like to help:

1. Tell your local school about our project and we can get them involved
2. If you know a foody school doing great things please email [email protected]
3. You can help us grow or even have our map on your website more here
4. If you would like to donate to help finance our staff and work simply click here

As always if you have any feedback please add it below.