Skip to content
Schools' Extranet support

Please call us on 0116 454 1120 or email:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - updated advice

This guidance will assist schools and educational settings for the spring term. View guidance

In this section
  • News
  • School achieves the prestigious Gold Food for Life award

School achieves the prestigious Gold Food for Life award

Overdale Junior School achieves the prestigious Gold Food for Life award during Coronavirus pandemic.

Further information

We are pleased to announce that Overdale Junior School has achieved the prestigious Gold Food for Life award despite the coronavirus pandemic. They are the first school to be awarded Gold in Leicester City and the second school to achieve Gold in the county.

Food for Life is a Soil Association programme, and encourages schools to grow food, help schools to deliver cooking on the curriculum, assist in improving school meals, learn about farming and integrate these issues into everyday learning. There is a strong emphasis on community involvement.

Public Health in Leicester City have commissioned Food for Life to offer a support framework to schools, helping children to achieve a healthier lifestyle through making the right choices about food and understanding where food comes from.

Overdale Junior School began their Food for Life journey 7 years ago.

Headteacher Juliet Hart said: “The Gold Food for Life award is prestigious and gives recognition to the tremendous work of the staff, in particular our Food for Life lead Mrs Cooper. It acknowledges the excellent opportunities the children and families have had following this initiative. The Food for Life programme has become an integral part of the diverse learning experiences we offer”

When Juliet took up the post at the school, she held a strong ‘health for all’ ethos. She timetabled cooking for all pupils into the curriculum and hugely expanded the growing and gardening work in the school garden. The commitment to Food for Life grew year on year and the school embraced going on farm trips; developing a healthy tuck shop; holding family cookery sessions; learning about where food comes from and increasing school meal uptake through Bronze, Silver and now Gold standard menus. Overdale Junior School was the first school in Leicester to gain the Bronze Food for Life Award in November 2015 and similarly the Silver Award in November 2018.

The school’s vital Food for Life work continues despite the current Covid 19 crisis. Home learning online includes cookery lessons and there are a variety of recipe PowerPoints on the website for children to follow. The children currently in school are gardening, growing seeds and planting vegetable crops. The school is also continuing to provide much needed food parcels, delivering them to vulnerable families during lockdown.

Since Autumn 2019 the school caterers, Leicestershire Traded Services (LTS) Catering, have provided a Gold standard menu for around 600 meals a day. The menus are continually developed by the School Nutrition Action Group, who meet regularly with the catering team, and the school works with children, families and caterers to produce meals to suit the entire school community. The once separate dining halls have been turned into one bright, new hall with new tables and benches and noise reducing sound boards.

The school promotes free school meal entitlement via school newsletters, posters and the school website. Earlier this year Karen Cooper and the school cook held a cookery session in the school kitchen for children entitled to free school meals to encourage them to have a school meal. The following week the FSM numbers went up around 20%. There is a Whole School Food Policy which gives guidance to improving school food and work has been done on improving packed lunches to make them healthier. School meal taster sessions take place, parents are invited to lunch and family suppers are held in school.

Earlier this year, the school held an inaugural Lunchtime Companion Get Together focused around intergenerational eating together. It was a big success, with many children getting the opportunity to socialise and chat over lunchtime with nine older people from a local church and grandparent volunteers. The feedback from children and the adults was very positive. The adults then attended a meeting held by the head teacher to discuss how to move forward in future and promote this intergenerational work in school.

The work of the school has received international recognition. In March this year Karen Cooper met with a delegation of representatives from Sweden who came to Leicestershire to find out more about the work of the Food for Life Programme. They were very interested to hear about all the work going on at Overdale Junior School and how this has impacted on the general health and well-being of the school.

You can find out more about the great work Overdale continues to do in this video:

Food for Life has created network of over 5,000 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. 

Food for Life is a Soil Association programme.

To find out more, visit

Food for Life Awards criteria that schools meet: 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 via 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, free range and organic items are served 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, with some items local and organic, and more than 60% 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 Soil Association The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. Its Chief Executive is Helen Browning, and Chair of Trustees is Martin Nye.

To find out more visit / @SoilAssociation

Please consider the environment.