New Lincolnshire pilot is recipe for more nutritious school meals

Lincolnshire County Council has been chosen for a government pilot project aimed at ensuring school meals meet national guidance, supporting pupils’ health and wellbeing.

Victoria Howe leading one of the school education days at The Farm Kitchen in Ewerby Thorpe. EMN-220402-150325001
Victoria Howe leading one of the school education days at The Farm Kitchen in Ewerby Thorpe. EMN-220402-150325001

As part of the government’s levelling-up plans, the Department of Education and the Food Standards Agency will explore whether local authority food safety inspections can be used to check school food standards are being met.

The pilot is expected to go live in September.

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Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive member for children’s services, said: “It’s vital that schoolchildren have access to nutritious food. A good diet, coupled with physical activity, can reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases and improve oral health, helping children lead happier, healthier lives.

“Our food education team already provides a wide range of training, advice and support to local schools, helping ensure pupils are eating well and that menus are tailored for nutritious, enjoyable eating. This new pilot project will provide further assurance for both schools and parents that pupils are getting the food they need to flourish.”

The government’s plans for school food also include £5 million to launch a new national cooking curriculum and training, which includes an ambition for every child to know at least six basic recipes by the time they leave secondary school.

Schools will also be encouraged to publish a ‘food statement’ explaining their whole-school approach to food, a move that will eventually become mandatory.

With these very goals in mind, The Farm Kitchen is a catering company delivering over 5,000 delicious and nutritious meals using good quality, local ingredients to school children every day in 60 schools and nurseries across Lincolnshire, Rutland and Cambridgeshire, including the likes of Horncastle Community Primary School, Boston West Academy and Metheringham Primary School.

The highly skilled team prepares these daily, with all menus fully compliant with the School Food Standards and all menus accredited by Lincolnshire Food in Schools Team.

The business was founded in 2006 by Victoria Howe and is based on her family farm in the heart of Lincolnshire, Ewerby Thorpe Farm, near Sleaford.

Its mission is to provide primary school children with conveniently accessible healthy, delicious and nutritious school meals everyday, and ultimately teach them to make good and sustainable food choices in their own life.

The brand believes that giving children healthy school meals is vital for every aspect of their life, from good nutrition to the enhanced health and social benefits, and wants to inspire children to have a passion for healthy, nutritious food.

To aid this mission, Vicky works with local schools to provide activities where the children can learn more about fresh ingredients, new recipes, and are encouraged to try new tastes and flavours.

With an extensive background in food, Vicky began her journey by first studying Agricultural Economics at Reading University and then trained at The Manor School of Fine Cuisine, a Cordon Bleu School. She then began her career in the Buying Team at luxury retailer, Waitrose.

Growing up on a farm in Lincolnshire herself, and her husband being in the farming industry as well, Vicky wants to impart her knowledge on healthy, British-grown food onto school children to equip them with making healthy and sustainable choices.

With a passion to do something that made a difference and a drive to start her own business, using her wealth of knowledge she founded The Farm Kitchen to provide local school children with healthy meals to support their learning and general wellbeing.

Now this passion is even more crucial. With health and wellbeing high on everyone’s agenda she sees it is essential that school children are given the opportunity to eat healthy school meals and given the opportunity to do so.

Victoria commented: “Through the pandemic, children’s eating habits have deteriorated, so it’s more important than ever to be educating our children on how to eat healthily.

“At The Farm Kitchen, we’re passionate about feeding our children delicious food, every day, that will encourage them to go on to make their own healthy food choices. We really believe that good food really can change everything for a child, from the fundamentals of good nutrition and fuel to the enhanced health and social benefits.

“We want to inspire our children to have the same passion for food that we do, from a young age.”

To aid this mission, it works with schools to provide activities where the children can learn more about fresh ingredients, new recipes, and are encouraged to try new tastes and flavours. Since starting these Food Activity Days, The Farm Kitchen has worked with over 5,000 children.

Each year, they also host Farming Activity Days at their main Ewerby Thorpe site, where the brand’s farm is based, to have school open days. The children can take part in a range of activities to ultimately gain a better understanding of where their meals come from. They help to plant seeds, make their own bread, visit the tractors, and have tours of the kitchen where their meals are produced.