Over the past 5 years, Holyrood Secondary School has been on an exciting journey to ensure food policy within and ‘beyond the school gates’ plays an integral part in their whole school approach to ‘Better Eating, Better Learning’ by using their School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG). Their SNAG is made up of representatives from S1 to S6, along with a six staff representatives, Cordia, a Health Promoting Senior from their Local Authority as well as their Depute Head Teacher. The SNAG identified target areas using the BEBL self-evaluation toolkit, then identified challenges that they may face and the actions they would need to take to achieve their goals. Some of the projects they have run have included working with local business beyond the school gates, the Holyrood whole school annual festival promoting healthy choice ice lollies, BBQ style health foods and healthy foods from a variety of cultures, Food tasting day done in conjunction with the SNAG and Cordia, as well as creating a better dining experience through their outdoor Holyrood diner.
This year they have concentrated on their partnership working with the local community, through their ‘Beyond the School Gates’ initiative. This involved the SNAG pupils and team working in partnership with 4 local business including Cordia. Being fully aware that they cannot prevent their pupils from eating out of school and that 82% of young people nationally go beyond the school gates for lunch, at the front of their project they kept in mind that healthier options allow greater capacity to learn. Therefore all young people should have the opportunity to eat healthy to maximise their capacity and outcomes and they agreed that cost played a large part in choosing unhealthy options. They then engaged with their business partners to agree a cost friendly healthy packed lunch that all young people can access where deprivation is not a barrier. Their plan went as follows:
They surveyed all S1 to S3 pupils to look at where the most popular places they used for lunch beyond the school gates and asked them to name an average affordable cost. Once they had this information they approached their 4 local partners and Cordia. All partners agreed to the £2.50 lunch so that cost would not prevent choice. This was also the amount that came from the survey that most of their pupils said was affordable to pay for a lunch. They then invited all partners together to do a food tasting session with a selection of their pupils to agree on the pack lunches in each business and Cordia.
They have also put a reward system in place so that for every healthy lunch a pupil buys, they get a stamp from the business partner. Once they have accumulated 5 stamps they would achieve their first green apple badge, 15 stamps would then get the gold apple badge. It is the pupils who suggested the survey, who set the school menu with Cordia, and who have responsibility to have their own cards stamped for healthier choices.
The mission and commitment of SNAG is to ‘Make a healthier happier Holyrood’. This vision is mentioned at assemblies 3 times each year and delivered by their young people through their SNAG presentations. This is to remind everyone in the Holyrood community that they are committed to making each pupil healthier, and that by making those healthier choices they improve learning, improve lives and ultimately improve the outcomes of their young people when they leave school.