Good eating habits are the aim of the pupils of three Croydon schools chosen to lead the campaign to convince residents of the benefits of healthy eating through cooking and growing some of their own food.
Rockmount Primary, Addington High and Fairchildes Primary are the borough’s new food flagship schools. They will take on the challenge to move children and adults away from sweet and fizzy drinks, and foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
They will be working to entice pupils back to school dining halls and increase the uptake of school meals by offering more nutritious menus and improving the overall dining experience.
The schools’ appointments are part of Croydon’s wider Food Flagship Borough programme. The borough was awarded flagship status last year following a commitment by the Mayor of London and the Department for Education to fund two pilot schemes using the findings of the School Food Plan. The food flagship schools receive funding to improve health, cooking skills and food standards through school-based and community projects.
Becoming a food flagship school also means that these schools can build on their food, crop growing and gardening projects, and cooking classes with pupils, teachers and parents. They intend to share best practice with other schools and among Croydon’s communities.
Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for people and communities, said: “This is a landmark moment for our food flagship borough programme.
“The work we’re undertaking demonstrates how serious we are about the health and well-being of all our residents.
“The flagship schools will help us tackle local health inequalities and prevent avoidable health problems like obesity and type-two diabetes. There are endless opportunities to share the learning with other schools, residents of all ages, community groups and businesses.
“This will be boosted by our community grants scheme for cooking and healthy eating projects. It’s a win-win situation.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: “Our new flagship schools will transform the local food environment – and this is something worth celebrating.
“Their plans to improve eating habits will work in tandem with our successful Healthy Schools programme. This will raise the profile of healthy eating and encourage even more children and adults to make better food choices.
“These schools, along with others in Croydon, are teaching us vital life skills, in particular that cooking doesn’t have to be a boring chore and healthy meals can be fun, creative, affordable and easy to prepare.”
Rosie Boycott, who advises the Mayor on food policy and is chair of the London Food Board, witnessed first-hand Rockmount Primary School’s ideas to radically transform families’ thinking around food.
She said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm among teachers, children and parents toward eating more fruit, vegetables and quality, affordable food.
“Eating well helps not only to avoid health problems now and in the future, but has been shown to be a key ingredient to classroom success. Good, nutritious meals help to keep children alert during school time and to sustain them throughout the day.
“This is why the Mayor is supporting the food flagship programme in Croydon with the aim of involving the whole community.”