FGSL News September 2015

29 September 2015

Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg launched at Brixton Market

The Mayor of London’s food advisor Rosie Boycott joined traders and local families at Brixton Market today to celebrate the launch of a brand new healthy eating initiative.

The Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg project was set up by Alexandra Rose Charities in partnership with Food Matters with the aim of promoting healthy eating and combating food poverty by giving families vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh fruit and vegetables at local markets.

The project will support 100 families with the provision of Rose Vouchers that can be redeemed at participating traders at Brixton Market and in West Norwood. Working in partnership with local children’s centres, the aim of the project is to work with families with young children who are living on low incomes. The children’s centres will identify families who could benefit most from the scheme as well as providing support such as cooking classes to build their skills and confidence.

Rose Vouchers supports families to adopt healthier lifestyles in the crucial years before school starts. An evaluation undertaken by independent researchers, shows the intervention is effective in increasing uptake and variety of fruit and vegetables in both children and their parents.*

Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive of Alexandra Rose Charities, said: “All evidence suggests the first three years of a child’s life are the most important in setting their future life chances. Rose Vouchers give families the financial power in their pockets to give their children the healthiest start in life.”

The project runs in partnership with Lambeth Council’s Food Flagship scheme; part of a wider initiative to make Lambeth’s food culture healthier and more sustainable. The Food Flagship project, funded by the Mayor of London and the Department of Education, aims to roll-out the good work happening around school food to the wider community. Lambeth will launch a range of initiatives to get residents eating healthier, more nutritious food over the next two years.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “The Mayor set up the London Food Board to help improve Londoners’ access to healthy, locally produced and affordable food. By supporting Lambeth as a Food Flagship borough, the Mayor hopes to foster a love of good, healthy and nutritious produce in children and families that will involve the whole community.

For more information contact: Chief Executive – Jonathan Pauling 07977068655, Jonathan@alexandrarose.org.uk

* A full copy of the evaluation can be found at: http://www.alexandrarosecharities.org.uk/system/uploads/files/000/000/001/original/Rose_Vouchers_for_Fruit_and_Veg_Evaluation_Scheme.pdf?1416405613

Download the full press release

28 September 2015

Universal Infant Free School Meals – update

see 21 Sept 2015 below for more information

Please click here to sign our petition and show your support for this policy!

Huge thanks to all of you who signed the petition to save UIFSM! We’ve now got over 32,000 signatures and lots of press interest in the campaign. Please enjoy this BBC News piece featuring our friends at Lowther Primary School.

We’ve had encouraging news this morning in the form of a Sky News piece reporting that David Cameron has pledged his support for UIFSM! We’re working hard to make this a reality but you can help by continuing to add your names to the petition and getting this news out to your network.

Contributed by School Food Matters.

25 September 2015

Local food producers and community heros crowned at inaugural Urban Food Awards

Urban Food Awards 2015. Judges and Winners. Miles Willis mileswillis.co.uk
Urban Food Awards 2015. Judges and Winners. Credit: Miles Willis.

New Shoots Food Guru leads the way to a better future for young people. The victorious group of locally based producers and food heros were crowned top of their individual categories at an awards bash at London’s world famous Borough Market last night (Thursday 24 September). Four other producers were also recognised for their outstanding contributions to London’s food scene.


Organised by City Hall and London Food Link in a bid to root out the best of the city’s local larder, the Urban Food Awards is a celebration of the very best food and drink produced by companies with 50 employees or fewer in the capital.

Following nominations from Londoners, the winners were chosen by a judging panel, chaired by London Food Board chair Rosie Boycott, which included chefs Rowley Leigh and Ollie Rowe, while The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, joined to help judge the cheese category.

The Mayor said: “I congratulate all the winners and those nominated for what has been a hugely successful competition. What it unquestionably shows is when it comes to top notch grub and high quality beer, nobody does it quite like London.”

Leading the way to a better future

The Urban Food Awards was also open to enterprises, organisations and individuals leading the way to a better food future. In particular the Food Growing Schools: London partnership would like to say a huge congratulations to Dee Laverty who won the New Shoots Food Guru: category for her dedication to working with young people doing cooking and food growing activities through the Broadwaters Inclusive Learning Community in Tottenham.  Additional award categories included:

  • New Shoots Food Guru: A person showing passion and brilliance in passing on cooking or food growing skills to children and other young people.
  • Food Hero: The cook, campaigner, retailer, whatever, who is leading the way towards better food for London.
  • Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise: A community food garden becoming more self-sufficient with a scheme that shows money can grow on trees.
  • London Markets Initiative Krys Zasada Memorial Award: This year’s best activity to ensure one or more London markets will survive and thrive.

The Urban Food Awards is funded by Seeds of Change and the Mayor of London and delivered by the Plunkett Foundation and London Food Link, with the aim of helping social enterprises and privately-owned business to become more sustainable, while encouraging Londoners to buy locally grown food.

Download a full press release here.

21 September 2015

Keep Universal Infant Free School Meals in schools in England

Petition_FGSL news 2015

In September 2014 the government introduced UIFSM in schools in England. There have recently been a number of reports in the media that the government are considering scrapping UIFSM to save money.
We are calling on the government to back UIFSM and not scrap it.

Sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/107913

More information

In July 2013 the School Food Plan recommended to the coalition government that they introduce universal infant free school meals.

Evidence from pilot projects showed that while all children benefit from free school meals, the low-income children benefit the most. Nutritional intake improved dramatically and, academically, children at these schools quickly moved ahead of their peers elsewhere by almost a term. That’s why we applauded the government for having the vision to provide infants with free meals.

We need your help!

Having given schools over £175m to improve their kitchens, and encouraged the school workforce to make substantial changes to put it all in place, we believe the government is considering axing this ground-breaking policy.

We need your help to ensure the government honours its manifesto pledge and keeps universal infant free school meals. Please click here to sign our petition and show your support for the policy.

Why it matters

We need to protect this policy as it is not just children’s behaviour and attainment in school that benefits from UIFSM; health experts say it is a fundamental component of a wider child obesity strategy. It changes eating habits and improves children’s diet; packed lunches have on average three teaspoons more sugar than a school lunch and only 1% meet school food standards. It’s a fact that while 10% of children enter primary school obese, 20% leave obese, and diet-related illnesses cost the NHS £10 billion every year.

David Cameron acknowledged this distressing trend in July and said preventative health was key to improving the health of the nation. Taking away UIFSM is going to make the task of tackling obesity a great deal harder.

We also believe there is a strong economic case for keeping UIFSM. It stimulates the local economy with job creation in schools and catering companies, it saves parents £400 a year which can be spent elsewhere and brings wider benefits to the British food and farming supply chain.
Let your voice be heard

We need your help to ensure the government honours its manifesto pledge and keeps universal infant free school meals. Click here to sign our petition and add your name to the ever-growing list of voters who value this policy!

Thank you.

14 September 2015

The Food for Life programme is changing

Taken from the Soil Association Food for Life blog.

Over the summer we have been busy refreshing our offer to schools to reflect that Ofsted now expects pupils “to be able to make informed choices about healthy eating” and will look for evidence of this both within and outside of the classroom.

We have already been in touch with all our schools not funded by a local authority* to advise that from early October 2015, there will be a charge to be part of Food for Life. It may not be schools that have to meet this cost directly, there are a number of funding options available schools might like to consider, covered in our guide.

Previously, Food for Life was able to offer our School Awards programme for free through grant funding (from the Big Lottery Fund) but now that funding has run out, it’s important we build on the success of our work and continue to support schools to establish a positive food culture.

What’s new?

There are now two levels of access to the Schools Programme which are covered by our Food for Life ‘Membership’ package and our ‘Awards’ package. We have a host of new resources, training and webinars to support schools on their Food for Life journey. Every school achieving an award will also receive a site visit from one of our school food experts, giving schools valuable tips on how to demonstrate positive food culture to Ofsted and share their successes with parents and the wider community.

Find out more about each package and possible funding options in our quick guide.

Five reasons to start or continue on your journey with Food for Life:

What happens next?

Due to these changes, for just a few weeks until early October, we are unable to accept new enrolments online. We are no longer awarding schools under our old programme but we will be in touch about how you can go about transferring your existing application over to the new scheme without losing any of your hard work collating criteria evidence.

If you would like to register your interest so you are first to know once our new portal has been launched, please pick up the phone and speak to us on 0117 314 5180 or email ffl@foodforlife.org.uk.

In the meantime, please take time to read our guide and consider which package is right for you.

* Any school in a commissioned area, will be receiving direct communication from their Local Programme Manager to advise what these changes mean for them, if any.

8 September 2015

Sow it. Grow it. Sell it!


JaneBaker_GardenOrganic_FGSL news 2015
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson buys produce from Trafalgar Infant School students at the Schools Marketplace at City Hall. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic.

From strawberry jam to tomato ketchup, and the great British apple to winter salad bags – young entrepreneurs are bringing harvest time to the city. From September to December 2015, schools across London are rolling up their sleeves to take part in Grow Your Own Business, a city-wide celebration of school food growing, enterprise and learning, creating young entrepreneurs and healthier local communities. www.foodgrowingschools.org/events/gyobusiness

With the expert guidance of the Food Growing Schools: London partnership, students can learn the secret to starting their own school food growing business, raising money for their school, developing employment skills and selling healthy, home-grown food to and with their local community.

The highlight of the term sees the Mayor of London’s Food team opening the doors of the prestigious City Hall, for the Schools Marketplace, on Thursday 15th October 2015. Enterprising schools who plan for a bumper crop can apply to be one of only 15 schools to have a free marketplace stall! To get a flavour of previous events visit: www.flickr.com/groups/foodgrowingschools/pool.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food Board, said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm among teachers, children and parents around growing and eating fresh, healthy food in schools. Involving schoolchildren in growing food helps to foster a love of good, nutritious produce which is why the Mayor is supporting this initiative.”

Schools that succeed in securing a stall at the Schools Marketplace will be entered into our Marketplace Competition, celebrating the most enterprising schools with prizes being given out on the day. The event is organised with project partner, Capital Growth. The deadline to apply is Monday 5 October 2015, and stalls are limited: www.foodgrowingschools.org/events.

Why Grow Your Own Business? Grow Your Own Business offers schools the opportunity to learn about enterprise through growing and selling food, giving children the chance to learn new business and employment skills, across a range of subjects (e.g. maths, technology, PSHE). Enterprise activities can engage students of all ages and capabilities, even those children who aren’t interested in the garden or healthy eating.

The Autumn term also sees the launch of the big London Growathon. Students all across the city will join 10,000 other young London growers for the biggest school food growing challenge of the year – to feed your city: grow one thing, and tell a friend today! Schools and growing organisations can share their food growing activities on the Growathon website, and watch the numbers of young people involved grow – on the Growathon Totaliser. Ready. Set. Grow! Beginning in October 2015.

5 Sept 2015

We have lift off!

Rocket Science_Soyuz_FGSL news 2015Rocket seeds launched successfully to International Space Station

On Wednesday 02 September, 2kg of rocket seeds were successfully launched into space, bound for their new home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Watch a video of the launch here.

The seeds departed from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on Soyuz 44S – the flight that also delivered European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen and his crew to the ISS. The rocket and crew docked on Friday and the seeds were unloaded and placed safely on board. They will remain on the ISS for several months and return to Earth with astronaut Scott Kelly, currently planned for March 2016.

The seeds have been send to the ISS as part of Rocket Science, launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency. In case you haven’t yet signed up or heard of the project, we are giving up to 10,000 schools the chance to grow these seeds in 2016 and compare them with seeds that have remained on Earth. The project will enable young inquisitive minds to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future.

Official applications for teaching resource packs (suitable for all ages) containing the seeds will open on Monday 14 September 2015 for schools that have pre-registered their interest. Applications will then open for remaining schools on Monday 21 September 2015 if remaining packs are available.

You can still pre-register your interest on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website up until Monday 14 September.

Two teaser resources, a literacy exercise for primary aged pupils and a science activity on genetics for secondary students will be made available soon to download.

Find out more and pre-register your interest in the project here.

We look forward to embarking on this exciting adventure with you. If you have any questions or queries please contact us at schoolgardening@rhs.org.uk.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience

3 September 2015

Jamie Oliver, Sustain and Leon join forces to take action on sugary sweetened drinks and fund children’s food initiatives.

Sustain and Jamie Oliver today launch a petition calling on Government to tax sugary drinks. The Children’s Health Fund is also launched by Jamie and Sustain, with funds coming from a self imposed sugary drinks levy by Jamie’s UK restaurants. Leon are the first group to join Jamie’s UK restaurants in adopting the levy contributing to the Children’s Health Fund.

Jamie Oliver and Sustain have launched a petition calling on the UK government to urgently introduce a sugary drinks tax. If over 100,000 people sign the petition then the Government must consider debating the issue in parliament.The petition can be found here – childrenshealthfund.org.uk

Doctors, dentists, dietitians and many other public health experts support a tax of just 7p per regular-sized can (20p per litre) of soft drink with added sugar. This could generate £1 billion per year which Jamie and Sustain believe should be ring-fenced to support much needed preventative work around childhood obesity and diet-related disease, and improving the environment they grow up in [1].

Jamie Oliver commented: “I’ve spoken to some of the brightest people in the medical world over the last few years and they all agree that action is urgently needed if we don’t want the NHS to crumble completely because of the costs of diet-related disease like type-2 diabetes.  One doctor recently told me that diet-related disease is one of the defining crises of our time.  We need the government to step up.”

Following the launch of his documentary Sugar Rush, Jamie and Sustain have also set up a Children’s Health Fund. The aim of the fund is to get restaurants and cafes to volunteer to put a 10p levy on their soft drinks with added sugar. The funds raised from the levy in participating restaurants will go to children’s health and food education initiatives. Jamie’s UK restaurants now all carry the levy, including his 41 strong group, Jamie’s Italian. Naturally fast food chain Leon, which began with a mission to bring good food to the high street, has already signed up, and other restaurants are in final discussions.

John Vincent, Leon co-founder and CEO, explained “Since we started Leon in 2004 we have been helping people eat a diet low in sugar. In that time, we’ve seen people and companies become even more addicted to the white stuff. It’s a human crisis as well as an economic one. I hope Leon is the first of many restaurants to join Jamie in adding a 10p levy to sugary drinks and create this positive change. We’re very interested to hear our customers’ views on whether this is the right way to do so.”

Sugary drinks are often high in calories but of limited nutritional value, and many health experts are increasingly concerned about their contribution to weight gain and type-2 diabetes [2]. Terrifyingly, one third of our kids now leave primary school overweight or obese. Tooth decay is the most common reason that children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital – 26,000 a year for multiple extractions under anaesthetic – and type-2 diabetes is costing the NHS around £9 billion a year [3].

Ben Reynolds, Sustain, added “We want everyone to sign this petition to get Government to take action and introduce this duty on sugary drinks. In the meantime while they are dithering, we are really excited that the restaurant sector is taking the lead, showing that it can be done, and we are pleased to be helping them to set up the Children’s Health Fund to make sure that the money raised will make a difference to children across the UK.”

The government petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106651
For more information on the Children’s Health Fund see www.childrenshealthfund.org.uk



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