12 Tips For Parents
Twelve Tips to get fresher, healthier and greener food into your child's school - from nurseries to primary and secondary schools
If you're a parent and you're worried about school food then you'll be encouraged to know that the power to change the menu is in your hands. Here are our top 12 tips to get the ball rolling in your child’s school.
- Go and have lunch with your child at school - does it look, taste and smell nice? If you don't like what you see, take photos and tell other parents!
- As you’re at school for lunch, have a look at the dining room as well as the food. Don’t be a queue jumper! Stand in line and see how long it takes to get served. Does the food run out? Is it served with a smile? Is there somewhere to sit and enjoy your food without feeling rushed or overwhelmed and are you eating off a plate rather than a flight tray. Remember this is lunchtime not the feeding frenzy of a discount airline!
- Ask the school's caterer to tell you all about food sourcing. If they're doing good work, they'll be keen to tell you about it, if not, find out why.
- Measure your school food against Sustain's 7 Principles for Sustainable Food - what can your school do better?
- Get your school to form a SNAG (Schools Nutrition Action Group) to give the real customers (the children) a voice.
- If you're not happy with the meal service at your school, find a school that's doing it really well (we can help point you in the right direction!) and learn how they transformed their service. Take a teacher, school governor, or member of staff from your school to show them.
- If your school is serviced by a local authority contract and you're not happy, write to your council's cabinet member for education and get your friends to do the same.
- Likewise, if you're not happy with the way school food is being sourced, write to your council's sustainability unit. They should have a food policy and you may need to spill the beans on a contract that might have slipped below their radar!
- Encourage your school to grow veg and ask the school cook to prepare something that can be 'featured' on that day’s menu. Schools in London get financial and other support through Capital Growth but there are lots of other national food growing initiatives. Show your school the “Growing Idea” case studies on our website, or ring for a copy of our Growing Ideas Booklet.
- Likewise, produce grown at school can be used for cooking classes. Secondary schools have cooking in their curriculum - why not grow the ingredients? If your primary school isn't doing cooking in schools, why not volunteer to help set up a cooking club? You can get cash support from Let's Get Cooking. Visit our Top Tips to Get Cooking to help get started.
- Find a farmer! There are hundreds of farmers out there wanting to share their wisdom. Organise a school trip to a farm so they can see where their food comes from. If you've got a good caterer, ask them to recommend one of their growers to host the visit. They might even help out with transport costs. Or look on our Find a Farmer and Farm Links website pages for farms near your school.
- If you're feeling really ambitious, visit one of the 100 school farms in the UK and find out if you can grow your own school meals.
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