FGSL News October 2015

29 October 2015

Universal Infant Free School Meals

A huge thank you to all of you for supporting the campaign to save UIFSM! Today during Prime Minister’s Questions David Cameron announced that Universal Infant Free School Meals were safe.  Talking about the policy, the PM said “I’m proud of what we’ve done and we’ll be keeping it”. You can watch it all happen here. The announcement was prompted by a question from Sharon Hodgson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on school food, who asked whether the PM would go down in history as “Dave the Dinner Snatcher”. Thankfully he will not and has honoured his manifesto promise … I suspect with a little nudge from all of you who signed our petition. Thank you!

School Food Matters

26 October 2015

We’re Recruiting!

Communications Officer – Food Growing Schools: London (Maternity cover)

Location: Old Street, London & home based with regular travel to Coventry
Salary: £25,375 pro rata
Hours: 28 hours per week

This is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in this inspiring, London-wide project. We are looking for an enthusiastic individual who has experience and a proven track record of working in communications & PR. We want someone with an excellent knowledge of a range of communications channels including PR, Media, Web and Social Media and with a good understanding of & press contacts within the London region. The person will join our team to offer maternity cover and deliver the communications strategy to facilitate the main project objective of supporting all schools in London to become food growing schools.

Application Closing Date: Monday, 16 November 2015
Interview Date: Tuesday, 24 November 2015

For more information and to apply visit Garden Organic.

13 October 2015

Growathon – Ready. Set. Grow!

Growathon logo

The challenge is on. Growathon, a new initiative aiming to be the biggest London school food growing campaign of the coming year, has been launched by the Food Growing Schools: London partnership (FGSL). With the aim of reaching 10,000 London students growing food in our city by Summer 2016, students from every London borough are being set the challenge to  grow one thing, feed their city, and tell a friend today!

The new Growathon website enables schools, students and growing organisations to share their food growing activities on the Growathon Carrot Totaliser and watch as the numbers increase! www.growathon.org.uk

From classroom windowsill growers to urban school farms, and schools wishing to try growing food for the first time, every school in London is welcome to get involved. Activities such as workshops, lessons, assemblies, events, class projects and school farm visits will all be included. And schools will be able to advertise public growing events on the website to invite other young people to come along.

Grassroots growing, educational and environmental organisations such as community gardens, are also being encouraged to support schools to meet the challenge, proving that together there is a real hunger for healthy, local food in our communities, starting with young people.

Colette Bond, Head of Education at Garden Organic said:

Since early 2014 Garden Organic has been proud to lead the Food Growing Schools: London partnership towards achieving the ambitious aim to see every school in London growing food. Growathon is a new initiative that recognises each and every one of our partner’s hard work and dedication to collectively reaching this goal, through their unique and inspiring school growing activities, events, resources and training”.

“Now there’s  the chance for schools and community organisations in every London Borough to celebrate what they are doing too – and together reach our target of 10,000 students growing food by Summer 2016!”

FGSL partner activities include: Garden Organic’s Give it a Grow campaign, Capital Growth’s Harvestometer, the new Soil Association Food for Life Award Scheme, Morrisons’ Academy of Food, RHS Campaign for School Gardening workshops for teachers, School Food Matters’ Schools to Market (Whole Foods) and Young Marketeers (Borough Market) programmes and Trees for Cities’ Edible Playgrounds.

Garden Organic’s Give it a Grow initiative is an ideal opportunity for individuals, schools and the wider community to get started. Anyone can grow their own food, even on a small scale. All you need is: just one pot, some compost (preferably peat free and organic) and some seeds. Garden Organic have suggested some plants that are simple to grow, delicious to eat, and will grow happily and healthily in your pot. Browse through the cards, pick your favourite from the list and see how you go. To make your pledge today, visit: www.giveitagrow.gardenorganic.org.uk

The hugely popular Schools Marketplace is also back, on Thursday 15 October 2015 with the Mayor of London’s Food team opening the doors of the prestigious City Hall to the public one again. From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs are bringing harvest time to the city. On the day participating schools will be entered in to the Schools Marketplace Competition, to win prizes awarded by Abel and Cole, the organic home delivery service and box scheme. Categories include: Best enterprising product, Best stall and People’s choice (by public vote).

The Schools Marketplace takes place on Thursday 15th October 2015 from 12 – 3pm at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk London SE1 2AA. It is organised by Garden Organic and Capital Growth as part of Grow Your Own Business, a city-wide celebration of school food growing, enterprise and learning: www.foodgrowingschools.org/events/gyobusiness. To get a flavour of previous events visit: www.flickr.com/groups/foodgrowingschools/pool.

A Growathon Forum event will take place in Spring 2016, for schools and growing organisations. This occasion will build on the success of Growathon so far, connecting with Food Growing Schools: London partnership organisations, and cementing relationships with food growing networks in London Boroughs to support schools locally.

16 October 2015

Mayor and Whole Kids Foundation help tackle child obesity with £42,000 for schools to grow their own food

  • Lambeth and Croydon schools eligible to apply for share of £42,000 School Garden Grant
  • Mayor has partnered with Whole Kids Foundation to pilot the programme in the UK

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, today confirmed details of a £42,000 funding pot that will allow schools in Lambeth and Croydon to grow their own food as part of his ongoing drive to tackle obesity in the capital and get young Londoners eating more healthily. Today’s announcement comes on World Food Day as Rosie Boycott, Chair of London, joins UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other influential leaders at the Milan Expo to discuss the challenge of sustainably eradicating hunger and poverty over the next 15 years.

10.8 per cent of London’s children are already dangerously obese when they start primary school and by age 11, one in five are obese. Poor diet is linked to further complications later in life, ranging from Type 2 diabetes to cancer whilst the cost to health budgets has been estimated at £5 billion a year currently and is rising.

The School Garden Grants scheme will give state funded schools in both boroughs the chance to apply for grants ranging between £300 and £3,000 to create or improve edible gardens, which will be used to educate children about the food they eat and help them to lead healthier lives.

Lambeth and Croydon were both selected by the Mayor to be Food Flagship Boroughs last year, working to tackle child obesity through better diets and food education. In a UK first, the boroughs are making changes to the way food is served in schools, hospitals, and – working with major supermarkets and other retailers – on the high street. The aim is to show that joined up thinking can improve health and academic attainment of pupils and also of adults in the local communities they serve.

The Mayor has teamed up with Whole Kids Foundation to deliver the School Garden Grants scheme. Whole Kids Foundation – the charitable arm of Whole Foods Market – has run the scheme in the US and Canada for five years, with impressive results. Their work there has funded 3,014 school gardens, trained 8,438 teachers and served 3.796,922 students. By encouraging children to plant, nurture, harvest, cook and eat food they have grown themselves, the pilot scheme in London will help them to foster a love of good food and increase understanding of how diet impacts on health.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I am delighted to be working with Whole Kids Foundation to introduce this innovative scheme into Croydon and Lambeth schools as the boroughs continue their great work to improve diets and attitudes to food.”

“As our city grows, it’s vital we equip our kids with the all the skills they need to not only get a job but to see them lead a happy and healthier life. Of course, growing their own food will do this, with the added benefit of helping to trim the multi-billion pound burden on the taxpayer that stems from unhealthy eating and poor food related illness.”

The scheme will consider requests ranging from tools to training, equipment to part-funding a school gardener until the application process closes on 4 December 2015.

Benjamin Woodgate from Whole Kids Foundation said: “Helping kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods is our number one priority and we know that given the right opportunities, kids will get excited about fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious whole foods. We are delighted to have partnered with the Mayor of London to deliver Garden Grants to local school – together we are growing healthy kids.”

As well as work in schools, the two Food Flagship Boroughs are demonstrating the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “School Garden Grants are a great way to harness the enthusiasm of teachers, children and parents toward eating more fruit, vegetables and quality, affordable food.

“Eating well helps not only to avoid health problems now and in the future, but has been shown to be a key ingredient to classroom success. Good, nutritious food help to keep children alert during school time and to sustain them throughout the day.”

For more information go to www.london.gov.uk/priorities/health.

12 October 2015

Rockmount Primary take their food growing to the next level

tfc_edible_playgrounds_FGSL news 2015Pupils at Rockmount Primary School in Croydon will have the opportunity to take their growing to the next level.  The charity Trees for Cities has started work to create an Edible Playground which will be launched next Spring/Summer 2016.

Edible Playgrounds transform areas in school grounds into vibrant outdoor spaces that excite and teach children about growing and eating healthy food.  By instilling healthy eating habits at an early age, Edible Playgrounds help tackle obesity, food poverty and lack of access to nature head on, and provide a platform for fun and engaging lessons that support the school curriculum.

The edible playground will be designed specifically for the school, to include raised beds for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs and fruit trees will be planted along with climbing plants such as honeysuckle and blackberries. Pupils will enjoy planting and harvesting workshops throughout the year, and teachers will receive support to teach outdoors through gardening.

The school has already appointed caterers with a focus on high quality, nutritious and freshly prepared meals and  improved the aesthetics of the dining hall, introducing polka dot tablecloths, flowers and soft music and promoted the whole social experience of eating together.

They then moved on to growing some of their own vegetables such as sprouts and chard on school grounds to contribute to school lunches  Having been awarded Lead Food Flagship status an Edible Playground will really help the pupils and school to take their food growing to the next level. Through this project, growing and eating healthy foods will become an integral part of the school curriculum and the school experience.

“As educators we have a huge responsibility to lead our children and support them to make the right choices to achieve healthy lifestyles” Said Helen Carval and Tracey Langridge, Head Teachers at Rockmount Primary School. “Through our engagement with Trees for Cities as a Lead Food Flagship project, we have been able to develop our food, crop growing and gardening initiatives. We are very conscious of the link between nutrition, health and academic performance. The project has been eagerly embraced and we are very excited about the wide range of learning opportunities this opens up for the whole school community”.

Kate Sheldon, Acting Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said: “’With increasing concerns around food poverty, obesity and malnutrition, the next generation is in danger of losing touch with nature and not knowing why a healthy diet is important.  Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from”.

TfC’s technical expertise in the delivery of Edible Playgrounds and operations is well established and highly regarded. The first Edible Playground was created in 2003. There are currently over 25 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 50 to be rolled out over the next three years.

This project has been supported by the Mayor of London Food Flagship Programme, Marsh and City Bridge Trust.


  • 33% of UK primary school pupils believe pasta is made from meat
  • 10% believe potatoes grow on trees
  • 33% think that cheese comes from plants
  • 25% think fish fingers come from chicken or pigs
  • survey of 27,500 pupils from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)

Startling Stats

  • 1 in 5 children in the UK are already overweight or obese by the age of five
  • 1 in 3 children are affected by child obesity by the age of 11
  • 4 in 5 children aged five to 15 fail to consume the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 37 % of children between ages of 5 – 12 do not eat enough every day
  • In 2013 over 95% of teachers reported that they had pupils coming to school hungry
  • More than 40% of teachers surveyed reported giving food to pupils at their own expense on a monthly basis
  • Food Poverty – The London Assembly Health and Environment Committee report (2013)96,997 children received support  from a Food Bank last financial year – http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats



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