Contract caterer CH&Co has unveiled an initiative to challenge the role of food in schools and inspire children to eat nutritionally rich food.
Speaking at an event today at Westminster Kingsway College, Deborah Homshaw, managing director of CH&Co Education, revealed the launch of the Education Board, made up of leading experts, nutritionists and educators from within schools and the foodservice industry.
"We've fostered a negative relationship with food, saying ‘don't eat that, it's bad for you'," she said. "We must talk about great food and educate in a way that's tangible."
The board is seeking innovative ways to educate and inspire children to better understand nutrition, provenance and sustainability and to have healthier diets.
Among the initiatives planned are a series of food and nutrition courses, a cross-schools cooking competition, commissioning research from Birmingham and Aston universities and an offer to provide resources to support school projects.
Professor Tanya Byron, a psychologist and child therapist, told delegates from across the education sector how children's mental health and ability to study can suffer when they have irregular or poor-quality meals.
"We need children to understand the food going into their bodies is like the fuel going into my car. Change must come from a grassroots level, like recycling has. If it's a government campaign, kids will say ‘whatever'."
Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc spoke on the importance of provenance, sustainability and zero waste. He said that 80% of food is currently imported into the UK and stressed the need to reduce this to 40%.
Charlton Manor primary school headteacher Tim Baker shared examples of how he engages pupils through food, including teaching them to use plastic knives and hot pans safely, running a school shop selling healthy food and taking them to Borough Market.
John Pratten, chairman of the Education Board, called on the industry to "form partnerships" to share best practice between state and independent schools and put idea and help required to the board.
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