Food Flagship Status
In 2015, Croydon Council were granted funding to run a two year Food Flagship initiative, in the hope that schools and other organisations in the borough would use food to transform the environment, improve health, tackle obesity and reduce health inequalities. At the time, Meridian High School was one of just three schools in the Borough, and the only secondary school, to be selected and awarded with this status.
Since becoming a Food Flagship school, we have pioneered different projects to encourage our students and their families to make much healthier food choices. We are also extremely proud of the delicious and much healthier lunch service that we now offer in our school dining hall as a result of the feedback we received from our students, staff, parents and carers over the last two years. Our uptake of Free School Meals for those students who are eligible is better than ever and it is great to see the students making more informed choices about their diets.
One of our biggest and most exciting Food Flagship projects in the school has been the development of our Edible Playground. The Edible Playgrounds project was led by the charity, Trees for Cities, who provide schools in urban areas with the opportunity to grow food in their playgrounds. Since our Edible Playground was built in 2015, we have had a dedicated group of students (our Food Ambassadors) who have been learning how to plant, grow and harvest their own food, which they have then given to the dining hall for use in the lunch service at the school. The students involved in this project are really benefitting from the education that they are receiving about healthy eating as a result of their participation in the Edible Playground work. The aim is to develop this work by involving and educating even more of our students and their families about making informed, healthier eating choices as well as encouraging more students to get involved with the great work that is being done in the Edible Playground.
Our Headteacher, Mr Martin Giles, gave the following statement about the impact our Edible Playground has had on the school:
“All too often young people are growing up without a good understanding of the benefit of balanced healthy eating and an appropriate knowledge of the danger of eating too many processed foods. The impact of our Edible Playground has been immediate and deeply felt by our Food Ambassadors. We have very quickly seen that the students have a real ownership of, and pride in, what they are doing in the garden. Their minds have been awakened to new possibilities and there is a tangible excitement about how this project can be developed in the future”.
Our Food Ambassadors also made the following comments about how they envision the Edible Playground project moving forwards:
- “I loved giving the food to the chef in our dining hall. It made me feel proud of what we have done and I can’t wait to carry on giving him more food to cook for us so that the staff and students can eat it”
- “There is a school food market in Croydon and I would like to be able to sell some our food there and maybe even create a brand for the food that we have grown so that everyone knows it’s from Meridian High School”
- “I want to go to SLT meetings and present to them what we are doing in the Edible Playground and also explain what we are going to do each term to make the garden even better than it is now”
Recently, the council has been evaluating the impact of the Food Flagship programme overall. In February 2017, a filming team visited the schools and organisations involved in the scheme, including MHS, to see the changes and impact that the programme has had on the schools and wider community. We are very pleased to say that some of our staff and students have featured in one of the films that was made. We have also recently discovered that the Food Flagship scheme was so successful in Croydon that the Council now have funding to support other schools and organisations in gaining Food Flagship status and we are looking forward to building relationships with and supporting the work of other new Food Flagship schools in the future.
We invite you to come and see for yourself the amazing work that our students have been doing in the Edible Playground, the incredible lunch service that we provide our students with and indeed the great work that is happening in the whole school as part of our rapid improvement journey every day. Please do get in touch with us if you would like to organise a visit to our school. We look forward to welcoming you.