Happy international school meals day!

11 March 2021
11 March is International School Meals Day. It’s been an unusual year, so here we look at some of our activity reflecting this year’s theme of ‘Eat for the health of it’.

The theme for 2021 explores the link between affordable, nutritious foods and children’s physical and mental health. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, we saw a worsening food situation exposed. With changing school and work routines, School Food Matters had to postpone some of its in-school activities.

As we know there is a link between nutritious food and children’s wellbeing, we began to support vulnerable families in Lambeth and Southwark by providing breakfasts for their children. Thanks to futher support from Food Power, this programme was extended in December

Schools have reopened in England this week, and despite all the challenges and complexities that they face, our schools are committed to continuing to receive and distribute our breakfast boxes to families until Easter. 

In partnership with Chefs in Schools, we are also continuing to deliver healthy lunch hampers to schools to distribute to families that aren’t registered for free school meals. These hampers have been a ‘lifeline’ for families, many of whom are have no recourse to public funds, have lost jobs or been furloughed due to the pandemic.

A handful of schools will be using the food to supplement their existing breakfast club provision. We know that the nutritious breakfasts have already created opportunities for children to ‘try new foods or make recipes that we might not usually’ and we hope this is carried through to schools’ breakfast clubs. This will be an important insight to harness in our continued work with schools in Lambeth and Southwark through our childhood obesity programme, Healthy Zones, which is also supported by Impact on Urban Health, a part of Guy’s and St Thomas Charity.

Healthy Zones will resume in the summer term, providing a menu of support to schools, so they can better develop breakfast clubs, after school clubs and the implementation of school food policies that put children’s health first. Find out more about the programme here.

We cannot let International School Meals Day pass without celebrating our heroic cooks and caterers.  Our Chief Executive, Stephanie Slater, said: "We must also use International School Meals Day to celebrate the school cooks and catering teams across the globe who have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep school children well fed despite so many challenges. We often forget that during school closures, catering teams continued to serve teaching staff and the children of key workers and for that we need to say a great big thank you!”

Have a Happy International School Meals Day and here's hoping the next year sees more children eating quality, nutritious meals.