The coronavirus pandemic has been an uncertain time for schools across the country, with many new ways of working and learning to get used to. It is during this disruptive time that Overdale Junior School have achieved their Food for Life Gold award – a fantastic achievement!
They are the first school to be awarded Gold in Leicester City and the second to achieve Gold in the county.
Overdale’s Food for Life commitment has been growing ever since they joined 7 years ago. They have been:
- going on farm trips
- developing a healthy tuck shop
- holding family cookery sessions
- learning about where food comes from
- increasing school meal uptake through Bronze, Silver and now Gold standard menus.
Headteacher Juliet Hart said: “The Gold Food for Life award is prestigious and gives recognition to the tremendous work of the staff, in particular our Food for Life lead Mrs Cooper. It acknowledges the excellent opportunities the children and families have had following this initiative. The Food for Life programme has become an integral part of the diverse learning experiences we offer”
When Juliet took up the post at the school, she held a strong ‘health for all’ ethos. She timetabled cooking for all pupils into the curriculum and hugely expanded the growing and gardening work in the school garden.
Continuing throughout Coronavirus
The school’s vital Food for Life work continued throughout COVID lockdown.
Home learning online included cookery lessons and recipe PowerPoints were available for children to follow.
Children who remained in school grew seeds and planted vegetable crops. The school continued to provide much needed food parcels, delivering them to vulnerable families during lockdown.
Gold standard catering from LTS
Since Autumn 2019 the school caterers, Leicestershire Traded Services (LTS) Catering, have provided a Gold standard menu for around 600 meals a day.
The menus are continually developed by the School Nutrition Action Group and the school works with children, families and caterers to produce meals to suit the entire school community.
The once separate dining halls have been turned into one bright, new hall with new tables and benches and noise reducing sound boards.
Encouraging free school meals
The school promotes free school meal entitlement via school newsletters, posters and the school website. Earlier this year, Karen Cooper and the school cook held a cookery session in the school kitchen for children entitled to free school meals (FSM), to encourage them to have a school meal. The following week the FSM numbers went up around 20%.
Healthier food – with everyone involved
There is a Whole School Food Policy which works to improve school food and packed lunches to make them healthier. School meal taster sessions take place, and parents are invited to lunch and family suppers are held in school.
Lunchtime Companion Get Together
Earlier this year, the school held an inaugural Lunchtime Companion Get Together focused around intergenerational eating together. It was a big success, with children chatting over lunchtime with nine older people from a local church and grandparent volunteers. The feedback from children and the adults was very positive. Discussions have already begun as to how to promote more intergenerational work in school.
The work of the school has received international recognition and in a delegation of representatives from Sweden came to Leicestershire to find out more about the work of the Food for Life Programme, and its impact on the general health and well-being of the school.
See Overdale in action!