Tackling obesity in Southwark & Lambeth

Image above: We asked the schools where they would like to see themselves in five years’ time when it comes to improving healthy eating in their schools.

Bhavika Jessani, Local Programme Manager for Southwark & Lambeth

Last month our beacon schools and contract caterers on the new Lambeth & Southwark Food for Life programme came together at an inaugural event to start exploring the opportunities and challenges faced in the two boroughs in relation to childhood obesity and the poverty gap.

In partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, this pilot programme works intensively with six beacon schools to develop their food provision, culture and environment by tailoring the national Food for Life framework to meet local need and help tackle childhood obesity. The schools heard about how there are exceptionally high pockets of obesity in the boroughs, with some areas having a child obesity prevalence of one in three (compared to the national rate of two in ten). We also learnt about how there is a strong relationship between deprivation and obesity and that, although the childhood obesity issue is complex, the solutions needn’t be so complex.

With these challenges in mind, we facilitated a co-design workshop to explore and listen to the schools’ needs, strengths and challenges when it comes to promoting healthy food habits for their pupils. As part of this, attendees evaluated a variety of changes implemented by existing Food for Life schools to improve healthy eating in their schools. We discussed which interventions inspired them, which they’d find easier or more difficult to implement in their schools and why. The schools also prioritised their training needs when it comes to improving healthy eating in their own school and we discussed how training can support them to embed a whole-school approach to good food.

We asked the schools and caterers which interventions inspired them, which they’d find easier or more difficult to implement in their schools and why

Image above: We asked the schools and caterers which interventions inspired them, which they’d find easier or more difficult to implement in their schools and why.

Working closely with the six beacon schools, we’re working towards solutions that we can scale up with schools across Lambeth and Southwark, and in urban contexts more broadly. If this year-long project is successful, from September 2019 we hope to run multi-year projects across both boroughs, working with more schools to develop a healthy food culture, building on the learning from this initial project.

Bhavika Jessani, the Local Programme Manager said “We are very excited to be working with our beacon schools and contract caterers on this innovative Food for Life programme. We will be taking them through a design thinking process, first exploring their needs, strengths and challenges in detail and then collaborating with them to co-design and test solutions to improve healthy eating in their schools. This will put the schools and pupils at the heart of the process, ensuring a sustainable, whole-school approach to tackling unhealthy eating which will meet local need.”


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