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Schools in Bath and North East Somerset Say Yes to School Food for All

A growing number organisations, schools and local authorities already Say Yes to School Food For All, and are starting to make it happen on the ground. In this blog, we head down to Bath and North East Somerset where St John’s Foundation is now supporting six primary schools across the area to provide healthy meals for all pupils.

A young boy with a school lunch. Copyright: Monkey Business Images | shutterstock

A young boy with a school lunch. Copyright: Monkey Business Images | shutterstock

We’re always pleased to hear stories of School Food for All in action – whether it’s Scotland and Wales, London, or international examples. There are lots of stories to tell, but today we’re highlighting Bath and North East Somerset where St John’s Foundation is supporting six primary schools with the funds and resources they need to deliver school food for all.

St John’s Foundation is an 850 year old charity with two main focuses; supporting older adults, and supporting children by narrowing the attainment gap by Key Stage 2 for children in Bath and North East Somerset. Their work is focused around the question ‘what do families and children need to have the best chance to attain, grow, and achieve?’ which is why they’ve chosen to focus on providing:

  • additional reading, writing, oracy and mathematics support
  • additional emotional and behavioural support
  • nutritious food and safe places

Under the banner of nutritious food and safe places they have funded food pantries, food clubs, supported holiday food provision and even funded a staff member on the Public Health team at Bath and North East Somerset Council to focus on food provision.

In December, the Board decided to go one step further and provide free school meals to the pupils in six primary schools who were not entitled to free school meals. This decision was made in response to a headteacher sharing that her breakfast club costs had doubled due to the cost-of-living crisis. Teachers had also reported the increasing strain the cost-of-living crisis was putting on families’ household budgets.

So, the decision was made, St John’s would fund school meals for over 700 pupils attending the six primary schools they have been supporting for the past eighteen months across Bath and North East Somerset from January 2023 through to July 2024. They are all receiving the full cost of the meals as well as additional infrastructure costs such as upgrades to kitchens or more catering staff. So, no school would be left out of pocket from the opportunity.

Clare Greene, Head Teacher from St Michael’s Junior Church School – a school involved in the initiative said

“Some of our parents were not sure if it was real and sent their children in with packed lunches just in case! There were some VERY happy children today and lots of the kids had seconds! I sat and ate with them as usual but there was just so much joy and lots of full stomachs – thank you St John’s”

St John’s is now working towards providing  breakfast support within these schools, alongside weekend and holiday provision. 

St John’s have introduced the scheme now as it helps to alleviate pressure on families during the cost-of-living crisis, but they also know the importance of food in achieving their goal of reducing the attainment gap in Key Stage 2. School Food for All removes the stigma for children from lower-income households because every child is able to enjoy a school meal regardless of their household income, postcode or learning ability. In doing so, it ensures that every child has the nutritious food they need to focus, engage and learn well, creating an equal playing field for all students and reducing the attainment gap. 

St John’s are happy to showcase the power of school food for all and the investment it offers for the future, but they do not believe it is their responsibility to support such schemes forever. Instead, they want Governments to Say Yes to School Food for All and commit to a progressive roll out of universal free school meals so no child misses out on a school meal by 2030, from nursery to sixth form and from Stornoway to Southampton.

Published Monday 17 April 2023

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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Barbara joined Sustain in 2018 and manages the Children’s Food Campaign, which champions children’s rights, parent power and government action to improve the food environment children grow up in. This includes campaigning for tighter regulations of junk food marketing to children, better school food and reducing children’s consumption of sugary or unhealthy food.

Barbara Crowther
Campaign Manager
Children's Food Campaign

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