Surely schools are the place to improve knowledge on food, on what we should eat, to inspire a life long love for whole food and to understand the difference between real food and processed food. To understand that food is essential for life, and that in the modern world nobody should be going hungry. To try and fathom how on earth it is possible for the same areas struck be food poverty and lack of access to food to at the same time be suffering from diabetes and obesity due to the shocking quality of the food that may be available. It’s just so bloody obvious. How on earth have we allowed ourselves to have an education system that spends so little time on the one thing we put in our bodies every single day that nourishes us. That gives us energy, that fuels our bodies and our minds. We cannot achieve our potential either individually or as a collective unless we fuel ourselves efficiently.
Naomi Duncan and the charity Chefs in Schools are right at the beating heart of this debate and trailblazing some of the improvements that can be made. They will soon be working with over 70 schools, predominantly in London, but with grand plans to work with, or inspire a transformation across thousands, if not tens of thousands of schools.
In this chat we dive into understanding what the problem with school food is, how have we ended up here, what should be done, what can be done and what is being done. The impact that Naomi and the Chefs in Schools team are having is exceptional and very exciting. Wether helping get fully trained restaurant style chefs into schools, or working with existing teams, they are focused not only on providing better food in canteens, but working with the curriculum in educating children and inspiring them around what good food can look like. But whatever you do, don’t call the food healthy, since they have learnt the hard hard way, that can turn the average teenager off.
I hope many of you listening will be inspired to speak to your local schools. If you are a parent perhaps you can ask better questions of your kids school. But if you work in the sector, why not reach out to your local school and see if you can help. I’ve personally found working with my local primary school in inspiring and teaching children about real food and seasonality and presentation and the ethics of food has been hugely entertaining and exceptionally rewarding.