A School Food Initiative (SFI) is a school-based project that improves the availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthy food for low-income groups at a local level. Examples of School Food Initiatives are breakfast clubs, food growing projects, school lunches and nutrition education programmes.
Schools are an important setting for the provision of healthy food for a number of reasons:
- Food and nutrition are central to the physical and cognitive development of children and young people, which in turn contributes to educational success
- Schools provide a social environment where children can access, enjoy and experiment with food without financial and other constraints
- A positive experience of food in schools can filter through to children’s homes and shape their attitudes to food and eating patterns in later life
- Schools are a cost-effective medium to deliver the expanding range of public policy objectives in relation to food consumption, from obesity to food poverty.
The information in this section is designed to assist you in setting up a School Food Initiative. Our Good Practice Guides and FAQ sections are a good place to start learning about what is involved. You can also browse through our case studies, resources and the Initiatives Directory to learn about other initiatives. If you would like your school’s Food Initiative included in our directory please fill out or online form or contact us for more information at +353 (0)1 6139001 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the different types of School Food Initiatives below.
A breakfast club is a safe, social environment where children can eat a nutritious breakfast and interact with friends, parents and teachers before the school day. They can take place in schools or community settings. Breakfast clubs have many benefits: a nutritious breakfast has a positive impact on nutritional intake. Breakfast Clubs improve school attendance rates and punctuality as well as cognition, memory, and concentration in class. Breakfast Clubs also help to develop social eating habits and give children opportunities to talk with someone in confidence before school. They also provide schools with the opportunity to engage with families on an informal basis, supporting parental engagement. Browse Breakfast Clubs on our directory.
School Food Growing Projects
Food growing projects create educational, recreational, and therapeutic opportunities for school children. They range from simple growing projects in the classroom to maintaining a full school garden. School Food Growing Projects teach children where food comes from and they have positive benefits to eating habits and physical activity levels. They illustrate important examples of natural environment & native habitats, provide an alternative approach to learning and helps build different skills in pupils and provide an opportunity to involve parents and strengthen home-school links. School Food Growing Projects fully support the Green Flag programme.
Lunch is an important meal time for school-children and should provide nutritious food to give them the energy they need for the rest of the school day. Lunch-time can also be a good opportunity for children to explore different foods and to develop social eating habits. Provision of food in schools differs depending on the facilities available. Some schools provide hot meals in a school canteen, while some offer packed lunches to pupils. Healthy eating guidelines for primary and post-primary schools are available. They should be used to develop healthy menu plans for lunch-time for any food provided at school.
Nutrition Education Programmes
Nutrition education programmes can increase awareness of food and nutrition and play a key role in addressing food poverty. Schools are an important setting to increase children’s knowledge about food and help develop healthy eating habits from an early age. Nutrition education programmes can teach children about healthy snacks, cooking skills, dental health or food hygiene. These programmes can build children’s confidence with food, encourage them to try new foods, and help build a more positive relationship with food. This will have a positive impact on eating habits by encouraging a varied and balanced diet