Health and education call for mandatory cooking and growing in schools
20 February 2013 - The last two weeks have seen potential good news for children’s health in the form of major backing of mandatory cooking and growing in schools by both UK doctors and the Department for Education.
On Monday, the launch of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges report ‘Measuring Up’ has seen Britain’s doctors recommend that there is a statutory requirement for schools to provide food skills, including cooking and growing. It also calls for healthy meals to be available in all schools and for the application of food and-nutrition based standards to be extended across free schools and academies who are currently exempt.
This comes less than a fortnight after the Department for Education announced practical cooking and growing activities have been included in a new draft national curriculum
. This was a result of recommendations by an independent review into school food, the School Food Plan, based on consultation with their expert panel, whose members include Food for Life Partnership and our partner Garden Organic.
Food for Life Partnership schools are already demonstrating that not only are these recommendations achievable in practice, but a whole school approach, of which cooking and growing are key elements alongside farm visits and improving lunchtime experience, is what achieves their programme’s proven, positive impact on children and young people’s health and wellbeing.
shows that over two years, primary children who are eating five or more portions of fruit and veg increased by 28% in Food for Life Partnership schools. Free school meal take-up went up by 13% in primary and 20.9% in secondary schools, helping ‘close the gap’ in health inequalities. The lessons don’t just stop in the classroom, 45% of parents reported eating more fruit and vegetables as a result of their child’s school being involved in the programme.
Libby Grundy Director of Food for Life Partnership said:
“We are very pleased to see recommendations for mandatory cooking and growing in schools backed by both health and education professionals. They are two important elements of our whole school approach, alongside farm visits and improving lunchtime experience.
“The positive impact that the Food for Life Partnership has on the wellbeing of children and families demonstrates the importance of a joined-up approach between health and education in many areas, including food education. Whilst this is just one element of a much larger picture in terms of school food, we are hopeful these announcements signal a move in the right direction.”