Our Central London Co-ordinator Tash caught up with her colleague Anne who leads our Schools Programme, for an end of term update.
Q: For those who don’t know, what is The Felix Project Schools Programme?
FREE of charge we provide a weekly delivery of healthy produce to primary schools, which is available on a market stall for children and their families to take home and enjoy. There’s a high proportion of fresh fruit which along with the other food we provide is surplus that suppliers cannot sell and would otherwise go to waste. We give an assembly talk about food from Felix and more generally about what happens to food when we don’t eat it and the detrimental environmental impact if it goes to landfill.
The Schools Programme is presented as an environmental project, which helps reduce the stigma that could be attached to taking food donations home. We encourage the pupils to get behind it and help us reduce the environmental impact of food going to landfill by taking food home from the stall. The program is a way to encourage healthy eating. The produce we deliver is all healthy and the children will often try healthy foods that they haven’t had before. We’ve heard that pupils are more willing to try foods they have chosen from the stall than food they find at home! It also encourages the children and parents to learn skills in the kitchen when working with different types of produce.
Q: How’s the food being used
Most of the food from the school market stall is taken home by pupils and their families to be used at home. Some of the schools we deliver to have told us that the staff used to buy food to give to their families and lots of the schools regularly issue foodbank vouchers. Schools also run breakfast programmes as there are lots of pupils who come to school without having had anything to eat in the morning. So, we know there’s a need. One family said they were able to make enough food for five days because of the school stall.
As long as the majority of the produce is going home with pupils and their families, we are very happy for schools to use the produce in different ways. Bread and yoghurts will often be used at breakfast clubs. Schools also run tasting sessions, where they might cut up larger fruits for everyone to try. One school creates dishes for Well Being Wednesday and some handout popcorn at their after-school film club or homework clubs.
One surprising benefit of the programme is that it’s been a great way to engage with the parents. Some who may not have previously interacted much have now built relationships with the school and the staff. These new conversations have really helped some of the families who have children at the school - one family in particular we heard about was struggling after changes in his universal credit and the school were able to help him.
Q: What have been the highlights?
Receiving positive feedback on the impact of the programme is just brilliant. We get some great feedback from surveys, and volunteers and staff who make the deliveries and talk at assemblies get such a lovely reception from pupils, parents and staff at the schools. When you’re so busy day to day it can be easy to forget the value of the work, so to hear that it is helping, to hear about the recipes people are making, the foods pupils are trying, and that people that are learning and going home to spread the message about food waste is really heart-warming.
The simplicity of it is great – the school can get involved as much as they like – it’s a great way of connecting people and pulling together the pupils, the staff and the teachers.
Pepper time – all the little conversations you have with the kids. One little boy picked up a pepper and we had a chat about what he could do with it – he happily declared ‘I could dip it in hummus couldn’t I?’ This basic interaction with fruit and veg seems to be an education in itself.
Q: How many schools are we working with?
We are delivering to 62 schools and have 24 ready to start in September. We aim to reach 120 schools by the end of the year.
Q: How can people help?
We need more supply of healthy food – if you are a supplier or retailer and have surplus of fresh fruit and veg or healthy snacks, we’d love to hear from you. We also need a team of volunteers that could help regularly once a week.
What a fantastic project – if you agree and want to help the programme, please contact Anne via [email protected].