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Using British Food Fortnight to increase school meals uptake

17 Jul 2011

In the last three years, the number of children eating healthy school meals in England has risen to more than three million as a result of taking part in British Food Fortnight.

This year's event is taking place from 17 September to 2 October and is now in its 10th year.

So how have councils and caterers used British Food Fortnight to increase uptake in school meals by 20-50% in the past?

• Kent County Council has organised a Kentish Food Week during British Food Fortnight for the last two years, in a bid to showcase locally grown produce and traditional Kentish recipes. At least 350 schools in Kent ran a special British Food Fortnight menu prepared by the Council's caterers.

The menu included dishes such as Appledore chicken pie, Huffkin rolls and gypsy tart. schools were also invited to participate in a competition to decorate the service areas with pictures of fruit and vegetables. "There was a significant increase in school meal uptake during the week. This event is widely supported by head teachers, teaching staff, pupils and parents alike. I would love to see the whole of Kent adopting this." Mark Sleep, client services manager for Kent County Council.

• Shropshire County Council used British Food Fortnight to give a boost to school meals.  They organised a special British Food Fortnight menu for all schools in the county during the event. "The number of children eating school meals in Shropshire Primary Schools increased by 20% as a result of the British Food Fortnight menu we ran." Bill Campbell, operations manager, Shropshire School Meal Service.

• Oxfordshire County Council's school catering service, Food with Thought, have also used the event to increase the uptake of school meals, developing special menus to celebrate traditional food from around Britain.  

Over 80% of Oxfordshire's primary schools have taken part with a reported 50% increase in some school. "We had a fantastically successful British Food Fortnight with our Taste a Bite of British Menu; the number of children eating school meals doubled in some schools!" Sue Edridge, Food with Thought development manager, Oxfordshire County Council.