By Màiri Thomson
The Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School has become the first independent school in Scotland to receive a Gold Food for Life Catering Mark from the Soil Association.
This award requires the school to make use of local and seasonal produce as well as showing it and sets an example of good food culture in the community, which the school has done by involving parents and local groups in the growing and cooking of meals.
The Food for life Partnership involves the Soil Association, Focus on Food, the Health Education Trust and Garden Organic and is also a national programme funded through a £16.9million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Alistair Pugh from the Rudolf Steiner School said: “When we started working towards this prestigious award, we adopted a whole school approach. We involved our parents, our local suppliers and our pupils to determine how the menu would evolve. By simplifying what we prepared each day, we have been able to ensure that everything, where possible, is locally sourced, organic and fresh.
“As a result, we have reduced cost, wastage and food miles while providing an innovative educational experience for our pupils.”
The school canteen is run by final year pupils who treat it as a business and put any profits at the end of the year towards a cultural trip to Europe: this year pupils toured Russia and Ukraine. Younger pupils also use locally sourced ingredients to create healthy pizzas which are sold once a week as a fundraiser.
The Soil Association state that the Food for Life Partnership evolved “out of a growing concern that individuals and communities are getting more and more detached from how food is produced, and losing the skills and knowledge needed to take active control over what we eat.”
Steiner teacher Pugh adds: “We would encourage other schools to pursue a Food for Life award as it supports not only the benefits of healthy eating but also food education for the whole school. For example, gardening is part of our curriculum and our pupils grow their own organic vegetables in the school grounds, which are used where appropriate as part of the seasonal menu. In addition, they volunteer at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Community Garden and enjoy a varied programme of farm-based activities, food preparation and cooking classes throughout the year.”