A great day for school food
Roger Mortlock - 23 November 2011
It’s not always about winning of course, but the fact the Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) has today won the Derek Cooper Award at the 2011 BBC Food & Farming Awards feels very well deserved.
Led by the Soil Association with our amazing partners, Health Education Trust, Garden Organic and The Focus on Food Campaign, the real magic of this programme has been the way it is joining up food education, cooking, growing, farm visits and the quality of food served in schools. This award celebrates the incredible staff team across all the partners but most of all it celebrates the 4,200 schools we work with. Without the support of almost 20% of schools in England, this programme wouldn’t be able to achieve anything. It’s the pupils, teachers, parents, schools and the communities they serve that are the real winners of this award.
I am not sure anyone would have imagined when we started campaigning about school food in 2003 that we would end up with one of the most successful interventions of its kind on our hands. None of this would be possible with the £16.9 million investment from the BIG Lottery which has kick started the first five years of the partnership.
This is a programme here to stay, and we are delighted that support has come forward to help secure its future. Thank you to all our members and supporters who have given us money to keep this important work going. We still need support to take this work forward.
Only last week I visited to school in middle of Haringey where, with the help of the Partnership the head teacher has successfully transformed the school’s food culture. Talking over the first school lunch I’ve had in a while, the head teacher proudly claimed that the only reason she knew every child’s name in the school was because she serves lunch everyday alongside the school cooks!
I am proud to chair this great partnership of like-minded organisations, and there are so many people to thank for its success. But we also need to recognise where the programme started. This revolutionary programme was borne out of the enthusiasm and foresight of school cook Jeannette Orrey who, I am proud to say, is still a core part of our team. Margaret Mead’s quote has never rung more true: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'
Roger Mortlock is Deputy Director of the Soil Association. His previous career - which included stints in education, public health and even a spell in the arts - could be described as eclectic; if 'eclectic' is latin for 'all over the place'. His defence is that the only thing that links it all together is a commitment to positive health and well-being; something right at the heart of the founding vision of the Soil Association. He works on campaigns, policy and our programmes, including chairing the Food for Life Partnership.