School food

Young people have become detached from how food is produced and are losing the skills and knowledge needed choose and cook a healthy, sustainable diet - a third of children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school.

We know that the lessons children learn about food stay with them for life. That's why the Soil Association launched the Food for Life Campaign in 2003, to change school food for the better.

We've had huge success. Developed with grants from the Big Lottery Fund, the Soil Association-led Food for Life has worked with thousands of schools in England, supporting them to transform food culture, improve lunchtimes and get children and their families cooking, growing and visiting farms.

Food for Life is now part of the Soil Association and brings together the national school awards programme with our work in other areas including early years, hospitals, care settings and workplaces.

Meanwhile, Soil Association's Food for Life Scotland programme aims to transform food culture across the country, so we can all eat food that is good for us, our communities and the planet.

As a result of this work, 20% of UK schools are serving meals to Food for Life Catering Mark standards, an independent guarantee that food on the plate is fresh, traceable and free from undesirable additives!

We passionately believe that regardless of geography, background or experience, every child deserves good food.

We've come a long way since turkey twizzlers!

The Soil Association started working in schools nearly 20 years ago, and in that time we have achieved a huge amount to make sure good food is at the heart of the school day. We continue to drive change across the country - to make sure all youngsters have access to fresh, tasty and nutritious food, and they grow up knowing where food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals from scratch.

1994: We published our first food education pack for schools, including guidance on running farm visits.

1998: We launched the 'Organic Farm Network' a pioneering group of farms who host school visits as well as being open to the public.

2003: We launched our 'Food for Life' campaign and pilot project to get more schools serving fresh, local and organic meals and give pupils the chance to visit farms.

2006: Food for Life Partnership was successful in securing a £16.9M grant from the Big Lottery Fund to extend the 'Food for Life' pilot to create a healthy food culture in local schools and communities.

2009: We launched the Food for Life Catering Mark, a scheme to reward caterers in schools and beyond for taking steps to improve food served.

2010: We were successful in gaining funding for 'London Farm Academy', a two year project involving 10 London schools to support residential visits to organic farms.

2012: Independent research, summarised in the 'Good Food for All' report revealed the success of five years of the Food for Life Partnership. Food for Life Partnership was awarded £1 million from Big Lottery to assist in our transition to a locally commissioned model.

2013: We were awarded a further £3.6 million by the Big Lottery Well-being fund to support the continued development of the Food for Life Partnership programme for a further two years. The grant will support the extension of our successful approach into new areas such as early years, hospitals and workplaces.

2013: The government supported School Food Plan recognises the 'whole-school approach', pioneered by Food for Life Partnership, as the key to transforming food culture in schools.

2014: We are working with thousands of schools and communities to transform food culture. Nearly 170 million meals are served to Food for Life Catering Mark standards every year, including in 20% of UK schools and more than 25% of universities.

2015: Food for Life becomes part of the Soil Association and brings together a national school awards programme with our work in other areas including early years, hospitals, care settings and workplaces. Now we have over 5,000 schools enrolled and we work with local authorities and commissioners up and down the country on exciting new ventures such as our Food for Life Early Years Award, through to our Hospital Leaders Circle package.