Tuesday, 18 January 2011

School food ambassadors to help develop healthier food

A pupil led programme designed to improve food standards and boost healthy eating in schools is being launched this week.

Children and young people can now volunteer to become school food ambassadors and then work with their teachers and catering staff to monitor and assess the standard of food in their school and suggest ways to improve it.

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Media are invited to Temple Moor High School Science College on Friday 21 January at midday. School food ambassadors will be joined by Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member responsible for education, for the launch of the scheme. Please email jon.crampton@leeds.gov.uk or call 0113 3951577 to confirm attendance.
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The launch is taking place at Temple Moor High School Science College on Friday 21 January between 12 and 1.30 and will be attended by Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning, Dirk Gilleard, deputy chief executive of education Leeds, Al Berry, a pupil from Temple Moor and member of Leeds City Council’s youth council, and Adam Ayliff, the school’s health and wellbeing co-ordinator.

The ambassadors will monitor the food and work with staff and the catering provider to improve quality and develop an environmentally friendly, sustainable and healthy school food service. They will lead on improving school food by representing their fellow classmates and their feedback will help influence the school’s health improvement plan.

The role of school food ambassadors was developed after pilot schools found the programme empowered students, developed partnership working and promoted a shared responsibility. It is the latest programme designed to help deliver the Leeds School Meal Strategy and training for schools on how to implement it will be provided by Education Leeds.

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“Healthy and nutritious school meals are important for children and young people as they can help boost alertness and attention which can only help them achieve their very best.

“We are always looking at new ways to provide healthier and tastier food in our schools and these new ambassadors will ensure we are given honest and informative feedback to help us achieve this.”

Dirk Gilleard, deputy chief executive of Education Leeds, said:“This unique and simple concept reflects the future vision of Leeds being a child friendly city by giving children and young people a constructive voice and the ability to help make decisions about services to help make Leeds a better place.

“The need for access to good quality school meals is very important. We are committed to encouraging more and more children and young people to eat healthily at school and school food ambassadors are a great way of helping to achieve this.”

School food ambassadors were piloted in three secondary and two primary schools in Leeds and its effectiveness was independently evaluated by SWIFT research group. The research found that the trial ambassadors praised the concept and felt they had been given a voice on the subject. They recognised that school meals are important and the possibility of making positive changes to school meals - which would affect themselves and their friends - was motivating and worthwhile.

Ambassadors from Year 6 also said they looked forward to going to year 7 and would ask to be an ambassador at their new school as they saw it as an opportunity to make new friends and help their classmates settle into the new dining arrangements.

For more information on healthy eating and school meals in Leeds visit www.educationleeds.co.uk/schoolmeals.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577
Email: jon.crampton@leeds.gov.uk