Issue 5

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL MEALS DAY - POLICY IN PRACTICE

By Lindsay Graham, School Food and Health Advisor Volunteer, ISMD

The 8th of March 2013 saw the inaugural International School Meals Day celebration of healthy school food in schools across the globe and a heightened awareness of hunger and poverty.

The initial concept comes from a long established relationship between Scotland and the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. (http://www.fns.usda.gov/)

It follows a two year series of professional exchanges of knowledge on policy and practice in child wellbeing and provision of school food on either side of the Atlantic. In 2010 the USA brought in an act of congress to help tackle health inequality called ‘The Healthy Hunger Free Kid act’.  (http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/Legislation/CNR_2010.htm)

The act is comparable to our Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) Scotland Act 2007. (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education/Schools/HLivi/foodnutrition) With similar challenges on either side of the Atlantic sharing practice on what works was thought to be a way to help those on the front line support implementing government policy. Thus after a series of webinars, conference calls, seminars and exchange visits the International School Meals Day concept was planted firmly in the calendar.

...borne out of collaboration between the Scottish Government and the United States Department for Agriculture. Its aims are to raise awareness of the nutritional quality of school meals and highlight the connection between healthy eating and better learning

The day focuses on raising awareness and discussion on international school food policies, training, research and best practice. It has six themes:

•    Raise awareness of the importance of the nutritional quality of school meal programs worldwide (to encourage all those involved in the school nutrition arena to improve quality and standards of food for schools)
•    Emphasise the connection between healthy eating, education and better learning (to support teachers and promote the integration of nutrition education in the curriculum)
•    Connect children around the world to foster healthy eating habits and promote well-being in schools (support a platform for global learning on food via suitable media for the next generation)
•    Share success stories of school meal programs around the globe (provide a venue to review and replicate successful practices in international policy implementation)
•    Highlight research activities in school meal programs around the globe (support the on-going research into the impact of school feeding programmes on child wellbeing)
•    Raise awareness of the hunger and poverty issues being addressed through school feeding programmes in developing countries (provide a stage for third world and developing countries to highlight areas of success and those seeking support)

Scotland support came from Soil Association Scotland, Scottish Government, Association of Public Sector Excellence, Association of Service Solutions in Scotland, Education Scotland and Mary's Meals. Children in Scotland gave a huge hand to the day by hosting the website for the event.

Among the many global activities pupils of 14 Scottish Schools were twinned with 14 USA Schools via the Scottish Government, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service and The British Council's Schools Online ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme.(http://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/programmes-and-funding/linking-programmes-worldwide/connecting-classrooms)

The pupils of Dalry School in North Ayrshire connected with Harmony Hill Elementary School to celebrate the day via live internet debate, cake cutting and sent a video message to the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama!

Emails, pictures, stories and tweets reaching over a million interactions came from countries all over the world including Taiwan, Cyprus, Pakistan, Japan, Sweden, USA, Demark, Columbia and all four home nations. Events included special menus, fancy dress for dining room catering staff, cookery demonstrations, fruit tasting and lessons in the ‘United Nations Rights of the Child’. True Global Citizen Activities by children in Scotland’s schools and beyond…so special thanks to all the children in Scotland who took part in the day.

Michael Russel MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education wrote a blog for the event. http://engageforeducation.org/2013/03/cabinet-secretary-blog-international-school-meals-day/ 

On the day, schools in Scotland, the USA, and across the globe celebrated the first ever International School Meals Day. This special event celebrated food and promoted healthy living through the learning environment and it was appropriate that this came at the end of the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing week, where the focus was on what wellbeing means and how we can all get it right for children and young people.

The idea to create this annual event was borne out of collaboration between the Scottish Government and the United States Department for Agriculture.  Its aims are to raise awareness of the nutritional quality of school meals and highlight the connection between healthy eating and better learning.  Since December 2010, Scotland and the USA have been sharing examples of policy and practices in promoting healthy eating in schools.

International School Meals Day has been attracting attention from around the world, with schools from England and Wales to Pakistan and Taiwan pledging their support to the day.

In support of International School Meals Day, Mr Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning visited Tighnabruaich Primary School in Argyll and Bute to see how they were marking the day.  Tighnabruaich are one of the first 14 Scottish schools we have twinned with schools in the US and who are leading the way in fostering healthy eating habits and promoting well-being in school.  Tighnabruaich have been twinned with Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland.  The two schools are working on a cooking project based on swapping recipes which contain produce sourced locally in both schools.  Tighnabruaich are creating some exciting recipes, containing the fresh produce grown by the pupils in their own poly tunnel and orchard on school grounds.

There were plenty of other exciting projects undertaken in Scottish Schools to celebrate the day and all of the Ministers in the Education and Lifelong Learning portfolio visited schools on the day, experiencing school lunch and demonstrating their support for International School Meals Day.

Pupils at Brannock High School in North Lanarkshire prepared, catered and served for 60 people at an International Lunch Buffet. The pupils took inspiration for their theme from Scotland, China, Mexico and the USA to create their dishes.  The event was linked, through Skype, to their twin school Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Kentucky.  Dalry Primary School in North Ayrshire, twinned with Harmony Hills Elementary in Maryland, had a Maryland themed Menu.  They also video linked between schools, where they cut a large cake to symbolise a long and productive partnership.

As well as all this activity taking place in Scottish schools International School Meals Day has been attracting attention from around the world, with schools from England and Wales to Pakistan and Taiwan pledging their support to the day.

We are still encouraging schools to send us their food stories or pictures so to do so visit www.internationalschoolmealsday.com or tweet @IntSchoolMeals with any messages.

The day was a great success and demonstrated the reach of one Scotland’s ground breaking policies to our friends across the pond and around the globe. USDA visitors to Scotland in the last two years who supported International School Meals Day and the sharing of best practice have included:

Dr Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary, Food Nutrition and Consumer Services (http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=bio_thornton.xml)

Dr Yibo Wood, (http://www.meas-extension.org/workshops/y-wood) Global Coordinator for the Food and Nutrition Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Dr Katie Wilson, Executive Director of the National Food Service Management Institute, University of Mississippi (http://www.nfsmi.org/)

The partnership on this vital child wellbeing and education topic continues and plans are already afoot for next year’s celebrations in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games. Much of this work would not have been possible without the input from the Support and Wellbeing and Food and Drink divisions within Scottish Government.

 

Lindsay Graham is a School Food and Health Advisor Volunteer to International School Meals Day

Web - www.lindsaygraham.org.uk
Email lindsay@lindsaygraham.org.uk
Twitter @LindsayGrahamUK

By Lindsay Graham, School Food and Health Advisor Volunteer, ISMD

Issue 5

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