Whole setting approach

Food for Life began in schools with a ‘whole school approach’.

The ‘whole school approach’ is the framework that guides the development of a healthy food culture in schools. This approach is endorsed by the head teacher, enshrined in the school development plan, and permeates the whole school experience. The approach ensures consistency: what is taught about food and healthy eating in lessons is reflected and reinforced in the daily life of the school, with the dining room becoming an extra classroom. Pupils are empowered to help guide the process, with the programme reaching out beyond the school gates into the wider community.

We have some great resources and tools to support the development of a whole school approach, including guidance on developing a food policy and establishing a ‘school nutrition action group’. In a ‘whole school approach’, pupils, teachers, cooks, caterers, parents, and governors all have an important role to play. See our School Award Criteria & Guidance for more information.

Based on our success in schools, we have developed Food for Life’s ‘whole setting approach’ for Early Years settings, hospitals, and care homes. In each of these, the approach involves leadership from the top and the engagement of the wider workforce to transform food culture and promote healthy food behaviours. This involves the consistent provision of nutritious, sustainable food and the education and engagement of pupils, patients and residents, their families and the wider community, to enable and inspire them to eat well.

The whole setting approach is an evidence-based intervention that works to change food culture, contributing to community-wide whole systems change, and impacting on education, sustainability, inequalities, communities and health.

Commission Our Work

in Food for Life schools eat around a third more fruit and vegetables than pupils in comparison schools, and significantly more fruit and vegetables at home.

Good School Food

School Meals

A vital service which can positively impact on both education and health.


Providing essential skills for making good food choices.

Food Growing

Inspiring pupils to eat fresh, healthy food.

Farm links

Reconnecting with where food comes from.

Cooks & Caterers

The front line in school meal quality.

Pupil & Parent Voice

Paving a route to success by involving your most important ‘customers’.