Why the campaign?
Direct experience of food growing can have wide ranging benefits, including:
Practical food growing encourages children to connect with food, and to try new foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, with the produce grown being used for cooking and food preparation activities. Food growing provides outdoor physical activity, and has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health, in particular helping develop confidence and self-esteem.
Practical experience of food growing teaches children about where their food comes from and how it is produced, and has links across the formal and informal curriculum. Environmental concerns can resonate more with young people than health messages; food growing engages pupils on the former while supporting the latter. The practical nature of food growing can connect children with the living environment, capturing the imagination of pupils who do not respond well to traditional classroom teaching and engaging those at risk of exclusion.
By its nature, the produce of school gardens is local and seasonal, the ultimate example of healthy and sustainable food. School gardens can promote biodiversity, teach sustainable waste management techniques such as composting, and support and inspire good habits both at school and at home.
Currently, some school have fantastic food growing projects, and their pupils reap these benefits. But many more miss out on this opportunity.
What we'd like to see
We want every pupil to actively experience and learn skills in food growing during their school lives, in school gardens and on farms. Pupils should have the opportunity to prepare and eat the food they have produced.
For this to be achieved, we need:
- All new and refurbished schools to have dedicated space for pupils to grow food, and food preparation facilities to complete the loop “from soil to soup”.
- Investment to enable schools to set up food-growing gardens or farms where none yet exist, or develop their food growing potential.
- Adequate training and education in food production and wider use of the outdoor classroom for both new and existing school workforce, as part of initial teacher training and workforce Continuing Professional Development.
- The Ofsted Self-Evaluation Form to incorporate a question on how schools are providing pupils with direct experience of food growing and production.
- Take action to support the campaign as a parent, teacher or someone who cares about children and food
- Find out more about who we are and what we do
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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.