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BeanMeals and Food for Life – the power of the pulses!

Charlotte Long in bean growing field

We're excited to announce that Food for Life is part of the BeanMeals project, focusing efforts in Leicestershire.

BeanMeals is a large collaborative project grant funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) and led by Oxford University. The University of Warwick has developed two haricot beans which are suitable for UK growing – Godiva and Capulet.  

Over the next two years, BeanMeals aims to improve the sustainability of supply chains, focusing on bean growth and consumption in the UK. BeanMeals will work with schools and caterers to encourage an increase in meals made with dried beans. This will support an increase in low fat, sugar and salt meals made with healthy plant-based proteins.  
Food for Life’s work on the project will be based in Leicestershire – where Food for Life already works with over 200 schools in Leicestershire and 89 in Leicester City. The project will work closely with 6 of these schools to implement BeanMeals in their school and local area. They will also be working with Leicestershire Traded Services - a gold Food for Life Served Here caterer – to adapt menus to include more beans on menus – and make them the star of some dishes. 

The power of home grown beans on health and the environment is clear. The recent National Food Strategy White Paper states that “British grown beans and pulses are another great example of low carbon sustainable proteins that contribute to healthy diets”. As well as being a great source of protein and fibre, dried beans are minimally processed so can support a reduction in consumption of ultra-processed foods.  

As part of the project, Food for Life aims to: 

  • improve food knowledge for children and families  
  • support teachers and senior leadership teams to boost discussions about healthy diets with bean-based low FSS (fat, salt and sugar) and minimally processed meals  
  • encourage the reduction of high FSS and ultra-processed foods in meals made at home 

Charlotte Long, Senior Programme Manager at Food for Life says: “We are thrilled to be working on this incredibly important project in Leicestershire, deepening our impact of Food for Life in the area and improving the entire supply chain.  Beans are a versatile, cheap and delicious way to incorporate protein into diets, particularly at a time when the cost of living is hitting hard, and we all need to eat more mindfully and sustainably to protect the planet. I’m excited to see the innovative new meals that will land on plates in school dining halls and home kitchens. Watch this space!  

Laura Chan, Policy Officer, Healthy and Sustainable Diets says: “We know we need to change what we eat to protect climate and nature, but we need to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. This means eating fewer ultra-processed foods and eating a bit less meat, with the meat we do eat coming from higher welfare farming systems. This exciting project spotlights an often-overlooked minimally processed protein source. By supporting local producers and finding new creative and delicious ways to incorporate beans into school meals, this project will support health and sustainability at the same time.”