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Leeds Beckett students team up with Fuel for School to bring healthy food into the classroom


Education students at Leeds Beckett are helping primary schools across West Yorkshire to teach children about healthy diets and avoiding food waste as part of an initiative by the Real Junk Food Project.

Education students with Fuel for School

The team of 17 first year BA (Hons) Education Studies students co-created an educational pack, which contains a range of exciting and highly interactive classroom activities for primary school children aged between six and 11, with the Real Junk Food Project’s Fuel for School initiative. The pack has been designed to be used by teachers of any subject to support both the National Curriculum requirements for cooking and nutrition and the goals of Fuel for School. 

Fuel for School began as a partnership between the Real Junk Food Project and Richmond Hill Primary School in Hunslet, Leeds, with the aim of removing hunger as a barrier to learning, highlighting the importance of nutrition and wellbeing in learning, and raising awareness of the vast amounts of wasted (yet perfectly edible) food in our communities. 

Richmond Hill, led by Head Teacher Nathan Atkinson, joined forces with the Real Junk Food Project to provide free breakfasts to all 600 pupils at the primary school and found that this had a positive effect on their behaviour, concentration and attainment. This was followed by a community pay-as-you-feel café and daily market stall within the school grounds. 

Fuel for School is now working with more than 35 primary schools in the Leeds area, delivering surplus food once a week which is used for breakfast clubs, ingredients in cooking classes, or through school market stalls. 

Education students with Fred the Fox 

To cope with the increasing demand for supportive information, the Leeds Beckett students were tasked with developing educational resources and activities which both support Fuel for School’s core values and provide an opportunity for pupils to use some of the surplus food provided in the classroom as they learn to chop, slice and peel real produce. 

The new educational pack was launched at an event at Leeds Beckett University’s Headingley Campus, where Adam Smith, Founder of The Real Junk Food Project, Nathan Atkinson and Kevin Mackay, Co-ordinator of Fuel for School, presented and demonstrated the work to a range of schools from across West Yorkshire. 

Dr Anne Temple Clothier, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, said: “It has been a privilege to work on this project. The students have thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and it has been a delight to be engaged in a multi-disciplinary team and to co-create social innovation. In addition to being very enjoyable, this innovative project has greatly enhanced the professional development of the students and their employability. Working in a range of problem solving sub-groups, the students experienced situations mirroring real-life professional practice.” 

Kevin Mackay added: “The education packs and accompanying resources that the students have built are first class. They’re packs that contain national curriculum links and assessment tools and I can confidently say they could be picked up and used effectively by any teacher. The students have really put themselves out of their comfort zone. It’s perhaps something they wouldn’t always get experience of: going out to schools, planning lessons and national curriculum mapping. All of the things we’ve done, they’ve really taken it on board and showed ownership over the tasks. I’ve learnt a lot from them and I hope they have learnt a lot too. They should be really proud of what they have achieved.” 

The Real Junk Food Project was founded four years ago by Adam Smith, who was appalled to find out that around one third of all food produced across the world ends up in landfill. Adam started with a pay-as-you-feel café in Armley where food that would have been wasted is cooked and served by volunteers to the community. Food can be paid for by either money or time and labour. This led to an international network of 110 cafes which has, so far, saved more than 107,000 tons of food from being wasted. 

Adam has now opened England’s first pay-as-you-feel surplus supermarket in Pudsey, Leeds. 

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