Food for Thought, the healthy school meals catering company in Merseyside, is considering a scheme that would see its partner schools setting up vegetable gardens to grow their own fresh, nutritious produce. As well as providing children with access to locally sourced fruit and vegetables, the scheme would help them learn about where their food comes from, as well as educate them about healthy eating, food miles and why the way we feed ourselves in the modern age has to change.
The not-for-profit company, which was established in 2003 and is owned by the 35 primaries it supplies with meals, will fund the growing project and work with the YMCA to create the school allotments. A young farmer, based at the YMCA’s four-acre Dutch Farm site in Speke, will be employed to provide pupils and teachers with support as they set about planting and harvesting their produce.
Food for Thought has been a Meat Free Monday supporter for many years, dishing up meat free meals on a Monday and other days, promoting the sustainability of meat free eating and even offering a totally vegetarian menu for National Vegetarian Week last year.
A winner of the Soil Association Gold Award for using more local, seasonal and organic ingredients, the company’s greatest accolade is awarded every day by the children who eat the food it serves: empty plates. “The key is in the sauces, flavour and presentation of all food,” said Tom Lambeth, the company’s catering manager. “We can offer a wide variety of vegetarian meals, and by using Quorn, often children do not even realise they are not eating meat.”
“Serving over 6,500 pupils every day in Liverpool offers us the chance to make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of so many young people through what they eat,” said Mike Carden, Food for Thought’s business manager.
Children also get to learn how to prepare their own delicious meat free meals, and get an education in some of the issues around the way different countries around the world feed themselves. Marking World Food Day last year, Food for Thought ran an event about food waste and set up an art competition for pupils, to increase awareness of a growing problem that sees rich countries binning tonnes of edible produce every day while millions go hungry elsewhere in the world.