Big Lottery funding supports extension of Food for Life Partnership

30 May 2013

Soil Association-led national school food programme, the Food for Life Partnership, today was awarded £3.6 million by the Big Lottery Fund’s Well-Being programme. The grant will provide core support to the development of the Food for Life Partnership’s programme of work for the next two years - promoting healthy eating and healthier communities through improved access to nutritious food and food education.

Established in 2007, the Food for Life Partnership currently works with over 4,500 schools across England, supporting them to provide fresh, well-sourced and healthy meals at lunchtimes. It also gives children and their families the opportunity to make better food choices through increasing their cooking and growing skills and gaining a better understanding of where their food comes from.

This funding will enable the Soil Association, working with new and existing partners, to extend the success of its work in schools into new areas such as hospitals, workplaces, universities and care homes. This will be done alongside the continued commissioning of the schools programme by local authorities throughout England.

A further pilot project, working jointly with Age UK in Bath & North East Somerset, will explore how social isolation in older people can be reduced by making use of their valuable cooking and growing skills to support education in schools.

Food for Life Partnership Director Libby Grundy said: "It is fantastic that the impact of the Food for Life Partnership continues to be recognised and supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Every day we are inspired by the many innovative ways that schools make positive changes to their food culture.

“Independent evaluation has shown that this can make a real difference to participants’ health, reporting that 28% more children were eating 5-a-day and 43% of parents eating more vegetables.

"The complex issues of obesity and food poverty continue to be major concerns, and we are keen to explore how the programme can be extended into new areas to reach an even wider group of people and make a positive difference to their long-term health and wellbeing."

Soil Association will continue to lead the project supported by the expertise of existing partners Garden Organic, Focus on Food and the Health Education Trust. Their work will be further strengthened by the addition of new partner, the Royal Society for Public Health, one of the leading bodies in health and wellbeing promotion in the UK.

Soil Association Chief Executive, and chair of the Food for Life Partnership board, Helen Browning, said: “The Food for Life Partnership programme is a core part of the Soil Association’s mission to support access to food that is good for people and good for the planet. More and more people are becoming detached from how food is produced and are losing the skills and knowledge needed to take active control over what we eat.

“The development of the Food for Life Partnership approach into workplaces, hospitals and care homes can only strengthen the positive changes around catering in these areas that are already starting to be achieved by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark.”


For further information, please contact:

Food for Life Partnership: Jo Wild - Communication and Schools Awards Manager - 07900 683 956 / 0117 987 4590 @FFLPartnership
FFLP school case studies and access to head teachers and public health commissioners for interview and quotations are available.

Soil Association: Natasha Collins-Daniel - Press Office Manager – 0117 914 2448 / 07827 925380 @SoilAssociation


The Food for Life Partnership has created network of over 4,500 schools across England committed to transforming their food culture. It supports them to provide fresh, well-sourced and nutritious meals and improve their overall lunchtime experience.  It helps children, adults and teachers understand the importance of good nutrition and where their food comes from through practical cooking and growing activities and farm visits.

The initiative is led by the Soil Association, bringing together the practical expertise of Focus on Food, Garden Organic, the Health Education Trust and the Royal Society for Public Health.

It is free for schools in England to enrol and provides a wealth of resources to support their progress through the award framework.

To find out more and download our media pack, visit

The Food for Life Catering Mark is an accreditation scheme that provides a step-by-step route to sustainable catering. Open to caterers in both the public and private sectors, the Mark has three tiers: bronze, silver and gold to encourage caterers to make step-by-step progress towards using more local, free range, fair trade and organic ingredients to produce healthier menus.

Project evaluation Find out more about the impact of the Food for Life Partnership in its first five years of funding by the Big Lottery Fund:

Award framework: Schools are able to progress through the award scheme as they continually evolve and change their school food culture.

BRONZE schools serve seasonal school meals that are at least 75% freshly prepared by a well-trained school cook. Pupils and parents are involved in planning improvements to school menus and the dining experience through a school nutrition action group, boosting school meal take-up. Every pupil has the opportunity to visit a farm during his or her time at school, and opportunities are given for cooking and food growing activity.

SILVER schools serve school meals on plates, not flight trays, and a range of locally sourced and / or organic items are served. All chicken, bacon and sausages served are Freedom Food certified or free range and no fish from unsustainable sources is served. The school has a cooking club, and pupils get to cook with and eat the produce grown in the school growing area. Parents and the wider community get involved in food education via food-themed events.

GOLD schools are hubs of good food culture in their community, actively involving parents and community groups in cooking and growing activity. School meals are at least 75% freshly prepared, 50% local and 30% organic, and more than 70% of pupils are choosing to eat school meals. Every pupil learns to cook and has the opportunity to grow food, and groups of pupils are actively involved in the life of a local farm.

The Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn.
  • BIG’s Well-being programme: In 2007, Big Lottery Fund awarded £165m funding through its Well-being programme to support the development of healthier lifestyles and to improve well-being. The programme focuses on three strands: mental health – to help people and communities to improve mental well-being; physical activity – to help people to become more physically active in their daily lives and in their communities; and healthy eating - for children, parents and the wider community to eat more healthily. To deliver this programme, The Big Lottery Fund appointed a number of organisations that will each deliver a portfolio of projects in England. The funding awarded today builds on the work of the portfolios in each region and on a national level.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.


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