Growing & Sustainability

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Having the chance to be involved with growing fruit and veg in school can have multiple benefits for pupils (and staff!), with opportunities for many curriculum links to be made across subjects such as science, maths, literacy, and PSHE. Being involved in growing fruit and vegetables has been shown to increase interest and knowledge in food produce, how it is grown, and where it has come from, and it has been shown we are more likely to try and enjoy the produce we grow ourselves! In addition, spending time involved with nature and taking the time to grow plants can provide opportunities for discussion around key topics, as well as bringing benefits such as: 

Even if you don’t have much space available, there are plenty of things you can do to incorporate growing in school, including utilising pots, planters, and containers, making use of windowsills and growing produce such as herbs and micro-herbs which don’t take up much space, and utilising outdoor vertical space by using hanging baskets and wall planters if floor space is at a premium!  

Food Waste

Food waste can be problematic– having high amounts of food waste can increase waste disposal costs using resources that could be better spent elsewhere, and unless sent to appropriate compost facilities, it also often ends up in landfill where it breaks down to produce greenhouse gases that are harmful to the planet!   

Given the environmental and cost-of-living crises we face, it can be tempting to encourage pupils to finish the food on their plate. However, evidence shows that this can hinder development of autonomy around food and can encourage feelings of hunger and fullness to be ignored. So, what can be done to reduce food waste in school? 

  • How appealing and tasty are your meals? Is food waste higher on a certain day? Is there a type of food that is disposed of more than others? Can the way the food is described and displayed be changed to increase appeal? Use the take-up of meal options as a guide when preparing the next cycle of lunch menus. You could use your Pupil Council to discuss school food on a regular basis 
  • What is the lunchtime environment like? Is the lunch hall crowded, chaotic, and overwhelming? Are there often long queues and waiting times? These factors can cause pupils to rush and leave food in the process. 
  • Are the portion sizes appropriate for each age group? This does not mean shaming portion sizes or encouraging pupils to eat less, but if there is consistently food leftover in particular age groups and it is not due to the taste, it may be too much has been served in the first place. Supporting pupils to serve themselves can help reduce the likelihood of this occurring and encourages children to be responsive to their own hunger and fullness cues too! 
  • Can pupils pre-order? This can help to ensure that the right quantities of food are ordered and can also help to reduce food anxiety. 
  • Can you provide samples and tasters before introducing a new recipe? When looking to introduce a new recipe or produce that may be unfamiliar to pupils, try to provide tasters first, to test out the appeal before committing.  
  • Do pupils know about food waste and the environment? Having increased awareness and understanding of food waste and how it can impact the environment can help pupils become more mindful of their food choices.  
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