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26th January 2018

Principals and Prue Leith take school catering ‘Beyond the Classroom’

Prue Leith CBE joined forces with Principals, one of the UK’s longest established school caterers and part of CH&Co Group, to offer school leaders new perspectives on the future of school catering and their role in ensuring children and families understand food and nutrition and enjoy healthy and sustainable eating at school and at home.

The exclusive event, ‘Beyond the Classroom’, brought together parents, nutritionists, head teachers, school business managers and pupils to discuss the importance of developing an early awareness and understanding of food and lifestyle choices to safeguard the future health of the nation. It also launched Principals’ 2018 initiatives that enable schools to give pupils, parents and guardians the knowledge and life skills to embrace a healthy approach to food that will benefit their wellbeing and the environment.

A leading expert and commentator on food and feeding young people, Prue Leith brought attendees up to speed on the current status of school food and spoke candidly about the huge and difficult task ahead to reverse the obesity crisis and create a nation of people that eat well and sustainably. Topics discussed included: the role of the head teacher; the role of parents and guardians; the impact of academies; is ‘choice’ beneficial or detrimental; the future of the packed lunch; the power of the manufacturer; and the value of food and nutrition on the curriculum.

Lord Paul Boateng, chairman of the English Speaking Union, also spoke about the unique education charity and its work to equip young people with the oracy skills and confidence to change their lives and communities for the better.

Broadening the debate to include input from those directly affected by food in school – the pupils – a group of 20 specially invited primary school children, had the excellent opportunity to ask both speakers questions that are important to them.  These focused on: bringing food trends into schools; meat free and vegan diets; school meals vs packed lunch; school meals in other countries; free school meals; school gardens and family cookery classes.

Principals revealed the ‘Beyond the Classroom’ initiatives that will help schools bring food, nutrition and sustainability to life for teachers, pupils, parents and guardians.  Focusing on the following three core areas throughout the year, the programme can be adapted for individual schools with optional events, pop-ups and activities available.

  • Waste not – spring term will raise awareness of sustainability and challenge children, parents, guardians and teachers to measure their daily waste and look for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Foraging – an introduction to foraging in the summer term will broaden children’s knowledge of food, giving them a greater understanding of where our food comes from, local and seasonal produce, and nature’s great bounty
  • Family cooking – autumn term will champion the joy of cooking at home. Through online videos, shopping tips, cookery classes and recipes, parents and guardians will be equipped to cook healthy, sustainable meals for the family.

Prue Leith said:

“For many children their ONLY hope of learning to eat well is at school. Caterers can do that vital job, by getting kids to love good food. I think learning about food— cooking, growing sustainability, food politics — is every bit as important as maths and English.  It’s wonderful to see Principals supporting them with realistic and exciting initiatives that can change mindsets and outcomes in classrooms, dining halls and homes. I welcomed the opportunity to support the Principals event.”

Peter McKenna, Principals’ Sales Manager, said:

Schools are well placed to drive change through direct communication and action with pupils, parents and guardians. By showing them the benefits of healthy eating and giving them the life skills to choose and cook healthy sustainable dishes, behaviours can be changed for the better, regardless of background.

Principals has over 26 years expertise in food, nutrition and school catering and we have a duty to share this knowledge. Our ‘Beyond the Classroom’ campaign has been specifically designed to give schools the resources to encourage healthy and sustainable eating at school and at home, without adding to their already pressured workload. We’re thrilled that Prue Leith spoke at the event.  Her contribution brought our initiatives to life and gave school leaders and pupils an insight into the benefits they can bring to the school and wider community.”