In August at the ASSIST FM Conference, St Joseph’s Primary in East Renfrewshire Council was awarded with the primary school Better Eating, Better Learning Award, sponsored by Spaceright Europe Ltd. Using money from their Food for Thought Fund, St Joseph’s created a school garden for growing fruit and vegetables, involving the pupils and their parents in all aspects of the planning which involved having many Family Garden Days. This gave the pupils practical experience of growing and preparing their own food, as well as teaching them about food through the curriculum but also through working with our catering team to improve the dining experience.
The food grown in the school garden is then used for school lunches, cooking lessons, social events or is eaten fresh from the garden. The garden has greatly improved the children’s understanding of food and health, and they also took part in the National Waste Week campaign where the catering staff taught the pupils what happens to the food we waste. The pupils then visited the kitchen after lunch over 2 weeks to weigh and record how much food was being wasted. Despite not having a kitchen for whole classes to enjoy cooking lessons, St Joseph’s bought table top induction hobs to cook and prepare food in classrooms and are continuing to seek as many opportunities as they can to excite and educate children about food.
Since starting their projects, St Joseph’s has been approached by 2 local schools who have asked if they can visit to get some ideas; one is hoping to develop their school garden and the other set up a Kitchen Work Experience programme.
St Joseph’s say that their projects have been a whole school approach to improving children’s food education. A progressive framework is being used throughout the school to ensure that children are covering all the experiences and outcomes around Food and Health. This focus has improved their links with parents, catering staff and local community and have given children the opportunity to; sow seeds, grow and look after plants, harvest them and eat them. They have not only developed some practical gardening and cooking skills but have developed an appreciation that food is something to be shared and enjoyed socially with friends and family. Many children and their parents have fed back to the school that they are growing and cooking more at home. Perhaps the most important impact has been that the children are showing an excellent understanding of all aspects of food and health, they recognise that Scotland has a fantastic natural larder and they are excited by growing, cooking and eating food.