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The Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) is much more than a school meals programme. It is an evidence-based whole school food approach which embeds good habits early on whilst encouraging children and their families to love great food

FFLP harnesses the expertise of four well respected organisations with many years’ experience of working on food issues; the Soil Association, Health Education Trust, Garden Organic and Focus on Food. This partnership uses food as the vehicle to not only improve the standard of school lunches, but also to enrich the school curriculum through food education, food growing,  cooking activities and farm visits.

FFLP supports the existing Mandatory nutritional standards now in place, but sees them as a stepping stone to change the whole school food culture which can then reach out to the wider community. As well as having an impact on the health and well-being of children – 28% increase of primary school children report eating 5-a-day;  many head teachers with FFLP schools have noticed a marked improvement in classroom behaviour and academic attainment. Twice as many primary schools received an Ofsted rating of Outstanding following their participation in FFLP . 

The achievements of schools are recognised in a FFLP award scheme that provides a motivational framework for continuous improvement in the form of bronze, silver and gold awards. To date we have over 4,300 schools engaged. 
The achievements of school caterers are recognised by the Food for Life Catering Mark, a Soil Association accreditation scheme for all caterers to put quality at the top of their menus.

The impact of the Food for Life Partnership is summarised in our evaluation report: Good Food for All    where we focussed on four key areas:

  • Children’s health
  • Health inequalities 
  • school attainment
  • the positive impact on the local economy

The FFLP approach offers a number of solutions to reduce child health inequalities. Giving every child the best start in life and strengthening the role and impact of ill-health are two of the key recommendations from the Marmot Review  which our evidence supports.

Free school meal take-up increased by 13 percentage points in Food for Life Partnership Primary Schools and by 20% in secondary schools. Participating schools saw greater increases in attainment whilst Secondary schools started to close the gap with national figures. School meal take-up rose by 5 percentage points over two years, making them more cost effective.

Going forward, we are talking to Local Authority Health Commissioners and promoting FFLP as a tried and tested model that is proven to protect our children’s health, fight obesity and raise the take-up of school meals. As our evidence shows, this is an approach that works and one that is leading the way in changing food habits for the better.   

“Food has such a huge impact on the children. Learning about what they eat – or should eat –is just so important for their physical, personal and intellectual development"-Head teacher, Birmingham

“I am massively encouraged by the success of the Food for Life Partnership. This evidence proves what the best teachers know – that food education and school meals doesn’t just have a big impact on kids’ health, it also helps them concentrate and succeed in school.”  -Jamie Oliver

[1] Good Food for All –

 [2] Marmot et al (2010). The Marmot Review. Fair Society, Healthy Lives


Written by Jillian Pitt
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 14:02

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