If someone had said to me this time last year that for a significant chunk of the 2019/2020 academic year we’d have to find a way to engage with pupils who are not physically in the school dining room or even in school, I wouldn’t have believed them for a second. But that’s exactly what we’ve had to do!
When, back in March, the coronavirus pandemic reduced pupils in schools to just the children of key workers and vulnerable children, we were determined to continue our work in partnership with our schools to inspire a lifelong love of good food in all our pupils. The fact that this had to move outside of the dining room, assembly hall and classrooms was a minor detail, as far as we were concerned.
Our role within our school communities is so much more than serving nutritious breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’ve consistently and enthusiastically coupled this with information, education and interaction around the power of great food.
Through our award-winning Good Food Works initiative, for example, we’ve opened up conversations and interest in the health benefits of different foods and nutrients, where our food comes from, sustainability and the impact our food choices can have on our own physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the health of the planet. Lockdown was not going to put this important messaging on hold.
Although not physically present, it was more important than ever to adapt and support our schools, pupils and parents/carers with relevant and practical information – from relieving the pressure of home schooling and working, to menu-planning for three nutritious meals a day and adapting dishes to ingredients available.
The response we’ve had from schools and pupils up and down the country has been phenomenal, and it just goes to show that there’s a huge appetite to learn about food and to learn through food – Deborah Homshaw, managing director, CH&CO
Determined to ensure that ‘Good Food Works at Home’, we launched From the Kitchen, our weekly newsletter that has taken the important conversation around food from the school dining room into our pupils’ homes. The response we’ve had from schools and pupils up and down the country has been phenomenal, and it just goes to show that there’s a huge appetite to learn about food and to learn through food.
Children and their families have enjoyed a range of fun learning activities that have inspired them to get cooking and build lifelong skills and confidence in all ages. These include:
● Nutritious, adaptable recipes – designed with cost, nutrition and ease of preparation in mind
● Chefs’ table – our chefs share what they’ve been cooking during lockdown
● Nutritional nuggets – spotlighting ingredients and their nutritional prowess, plus other fun facts
● Supermarket swaps – inspiring from-scratch cooking of favourite supermarket convenient foods
● ‘Show me chef’ vlogs – teaching important basic skills, from knife skills to baking techniques
● Quiz time – consultant nutritionist Amanda Ursell creates fun food-focused quizzes for all the family to enjoy
● Veg power – supporting British farmers through seasonality.
Engagement has been high, with schools showcasing pupils’ mouth-watering creations on Twitter feeds, Instagram and YouTube. Feedback from our schools and parents/carers has been fantastic and so uplifting.
There’s been so much fun had experimenting with new recipes, the children probably haven’t even noticed that they’ve been doing all kinds of learning along the way!
From the Kitchen has confirmed what we’ve always believed: through food, pupils of all ages, ability and backgrounds can learn, create, express themselves and grow in confidence, even in uncertain times.
What’s more, they are able to share this with their families, whether that’s through cooking with them or enjoying the delicious results together. I always look for the positives in any situation and From the Kitchen has provided this.
Through food, we’ve inspired pupils and brought our school communities closer. This is a lockdown activity we will continue and develop from September (when we very much hope all our pupils will be back in the dining room) with monthly editions. Now that’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?
From the Kitchen has inspired children to get creative in the kitchen – the images below are just some of the incredible results.