SchoolFood4Change aims to make school meals enjoyable and healthy for both our children and our planet
Children and young people spend most of their days at school, making it not just a place for learning, but also for eating and socialising. SchoolFood4Change (SF4C) combines all of these elements to have a positive long-term impact on school meals across the continent. The four-year EU-funded project sets out to redefine what it means to eat healthily and sustainably at school, while also addressing food education at several levels. SchoolFood4Change sees schools as catalysts for systemic and multi-actor change, including but not limited to school curricula. It involves training cooks, caterers and public procurers at city level and aims to create a true ripple effect, impacting up to two million citizens in the 12 participating EU countries.
In line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the project develops innovative solutions and tailored, locally adaptable good practices for schools, school meal providers, responsible public authorities and policymakers. To achieve the ambitious goal of enabling community-wide food system change, the 43 partners involved in SF4C – spearheaded by ICLEI Europe – follow a holistic multi-level approach: this entails the development of innovative and sustainable food procurement criteria and methods, the promotion of planetary health diets and cooking, and the introduction of a Whole School Food Approach. This is a defined framework for municipalities and schools that are aiming to create a holistic food culture and bring food to the heart of the school mission.
Thanks for the Food. It’s time for a new menu!
The Whole School Food Approach, in conjunction with changing school menus, establishes a sustainable food culture in and around schools. It breaks down the barrier between classroom and cafeteria, between producers and students, to impact the whole value chain from farm to fork. SF4C works to bring the knowledge and experience of sustainability actors from academia, administration, education and advocacy together to achieve the ambitious goal of shaping and transforming the eating habits of over 600,000 children in 12 countries – one meal at a time.
Every Bite Counts for a sustainable future
Change is urgently needed. No European country is on track to meet its obesity reduction goals for 2025. In fact, obesity rates among young people continue to rise in many European countries. Children today are forming lifelong eating habits as we speak but we must take advantage of the window of opportunity that is given during childhood. School food programmes create the incredible potential to expose students to nutritious, regional and delicious meals from early on, enabling them to become change agents and to carry the message into their homes and families. At the same time, we need to be conscious of the impact that our eating habits have on the planet. Globally, agriculture accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss and deforestation, further increasing the sustainability crisis we are facing. By bringing together the various elements of planetary and human health, SchoolFood4Change addresses two of our biggest challenges simultaneously.