Founded in 2007, School Food Matters (SFM) began with a quest to actively engage and educate children, parents and teachers about the quality and delivery of sustainable food in schools.
The non-governmental organisation, which works with primary and secondary schools across London, has been giving children the opportunity to engage with the natural world by providing teachers with necessary training, curriculum structure help, and the aid needed to build vegetable patches on school grounds.
Dela Foster, SFM development manager, says: “At the moment education on gardening in the UK is very limited, but that shouldn’t mean children are not given a chance to learn about where their food comes from.
She continues: “Unfortunately, the majority of schools don’t, or are unable to, provide this education. Many children in London also don’t have access to a garden, which is why SFM is so important.”
The organisation offers an easy and simple pathway for schools to get involved. SFM, partnered up with the Whole Kids Foundation, provides ‘garden grants’ of up to £2,000 to help make this education possible. Dela added: “With the small budgets’ schools have, we aim not to encourage schools to spend lots of money, but to look at what SFM can offer.”
In previous generations, a significant majority of schools would have vegetable patches and children understood exactly where their food was coming from, Dela explained. Whereas now, “even the rural schools don’t have veggie patches, let alone the schools in more built-up areas.”
“Without activity and education on gardening, we’re heading down a path where people don’t value food, which is disastrous from a climate and sustainability point of view.”
SFM has seen children become actively engaged, excited, and interested in learning about horticulture and working on the vegetable patches.
The education offers an alternative for children to develop other interests, and Dela explained many parents have expressed how special it is that this teaching and practical work can be provided.