Neatherd High School’s food champions win national award for their roast dinner blog
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A dedicated team of organic food champions at a Dereham school have won national acclaim for their online record of a recent 'roast dinner day'.
Neatherd High's SNAG (School Nutrition Action Group) celebrated claiming the Best Blog prize in a competition held by the Food for Life Partnership (FFLP).
Their submission described how they provided 500 freshly-prepared, seasonal lunches for pupils, staff and the local community as part of the FFLP annual Roast Dinner Day which took place in November.
Judges said the school's entry stood out as pupils shared their meal with four generations of local people, and with invited guests including those from Eckling Grange Care Home and the Dereham Allotments Association.
The award is the latest step in the school's healthy eating drive to gain a Food for Life gold award, which is expected to be confirmed at Easter – an honour so far bestowed on only one other secondary school in the country.
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The school has already achieved the FFLP silver award for its work on healthy school lunches, cooking, growing and farm visits.
Students take part in a gardening club every lunchtime, run an allotment, and plant edible borders with herbs, fruit and onions, to supply chef Graeme Baker's canteen, where an estimated 40% of the ingredients come from organic sources.
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Teacher Will Clennell, the school's environment and sustainability coordinator, said: 'We have an ethos where food is an important part of the day, and for all the students to get the chance to sit down and eat healthy organic produce is really important to their behaviour and their social experience at the school – which ultimately contributes to their exam results.'
The prize of a VegTrug – a self-contained raised vegetable garden – was presented to SNAG members Thomas Jones (Year 11), William Payze (Year 8), Alice Older (Year 8), Nathan Codling (Year 8), Liam Hubbard (Year 8), Johnny Keeler (Year 7), Patrick Needham (Year 7), Emily Jessop (Year 8), and Jack Thomas (Year 7).
Thomas Jones, also deputy head boy at the school, said: 'I really enjoy the whole aspect of the gardening. The more organic it is and the more locally-grown it is, the more healthy it is going to be, and it is better for air miles and the environment. That is why it interests me.'
After presenting the prize, Joe Denham, director of VegTrug, said: 'The achievement which the school has made with the Food For Life programme has been phenomenal.
'It is such an important thing, with benefits that are not immediate qualifications – but they are life skills. It teaches them so much.
'It is very easy to achieve these things in a primary school, but in a secondary school it is very difficult because there are no qualifications in horticulture. This is one of only two schools to win this prize, and the other is a primary school.'
The students' blog described the roast dinner day: 'Chef Graeme and his wonderful team worked tirelessly to produce and serve 500 lunches to guests, staff and pupils. All the food was made from fresh, local and mainly organic produce and diners had the choice of turkey, chicken, pork, beef or a vegetarian option with huge Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings. Healthy desserts of fruit crumble ensured everyone was happy and full.'