Using cooking to inspire the children and raise funds

Resource: Case study Age: Primary
Using cooking to inspire the children and raise funds

Kitchen Manager Anne Hext-Williams is at the heart of the Food for Life Partnership programme at Lady Modifords Primary School in Devon. A whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, she teaches cooking to the whole school, raises funds, goes into lessons, puts on cooking demonstrations and organises café days for the local community and parents. Lady Modifords has recently achieved Silver. Anne tell us how she does it.

Describe your role and what you do with the Food for Life Partnership.

As the Kitchen manager I have been the driving force, enabling us to achieve the silver award, along with the encouragement of the staff and the enthusiasm of the children. I have loved every minute of it!

Gavin Hamiliton, the head master, passed all the information about the Food for Life Partnership to me. I felt the ethos of the Partnership fitted in with everything I felt strongly about. It inspired me to start the first steps to achieving an award.

I run a whole school cooking club after school for each year group. Each year gets six weeks. That way everyone gets to have a go, and the Year 6s come in and help. In fact, they’re always begging me to help!

What does the Food for Life Partnership Silver mean for the school and the children?

Winning the silver award is a very important achievement for our school, as the children have learnt so much about healthy living, and how much fun it is growing your own veg and cooking it for the whole community to enjoy. Getting our caterers to rise to the challenge took some time, and getting people involved, but once you get the ball rolling things happen and people want to help out.

In your opinion, why is it important to teach cooking in the school?

I feel very strongly about teaching children to cook, as lots of parents have such busy lives. They don't have time to cook, so the next generation will not have the skills. But children actually love cooking and are much more likely to try new foods if they have cooked it themselves, and if provided with the recipes. They will cook them at home, time and again, so it’s important they learn how to make main courses as well as puddings to have a well balanced diet. For this purpose alone, every class I have taught I have run for at least an hour and a half to enable them to cook a main meal.

How do you involve parents?

Parents help out with the after-school cooking club, gardening and community events. You just have to ask. I asked for cooking apples the other week and was inundated with them! We put appeals out for volunteers in our weekly newsletter.

Some of the Year 6s went to a hotel belonging to a parent, where they learned how to wait on tables. The children love waiting on their mums and dads!

How do you fund your Food for Life Partnership activities?

Let’s Get Cooking gave us some money for the cooking club, which is great because it means that nobody is excluded. But, at the end of the day, it’s food. People want good quality food. I organised a café day and the children wrote up invitations to put in people’s letterboxes. From 7:00 in the morning to 7:30/8:00 in the evening we served breakfast, lunch and a three-course dinner.

The children waited on tables, I did some cooking demonstrations, and we left recipes out for people to take home. It was packed! People could come in before and after work, and we made £400 in profit, which is pretty amazing for a school of only 76 pupils. We bought a 25-foot polytunnel with the money. The hall/dining room is going to be my next fundraiser!

Do you think it’s important for cooks/school catering staff to take an active part in the school life?

I feel it’s very important to be a full part of school life. I’m lucky that we have under a hundred pupils in the school, and the children involve me in lots of their class work. I often go in and talk to them about the things we want to achieve through the Food for Life Partnership.

The Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together we are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspiring families to grow and cook food.

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