ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme helps school caterers to make small changes to menus that can have a big impact on children’s health and the health of the planet.
Like you, we care passionately about the food we serve to school children. We want them to thrive, nourished by good food they love. We also care deeply about the future of our planet, and know that food can be one of our most important solutions in addressing the climate crisis.
We work with local authorities, schools, and private caterers, offering a range of menu support services, including menu consultation and advice, new recipes and recipe development, and impact assessment. As a non-profit organisation, we provide all of these services completely free of charge. We also offer our Plant-based Cooking in Schools Workshops, for which we simply ask that our costs are covered.
We are the extra pair of hands to help schools create sustainable, healthier, and cheaper menus.
Why work with School Plates?
For the planet
We need to eat much less meat and dairy for the future of our planet – that’s the collective view of all the experts – and we agree.
The Climate Change Committee has recommended a 20% shift away from all meat and dairy by 2030 (rising to 35% by 2050) in order to put the UK on the path to net zero.
The National Food Strategy has recommended the following changes to the UK national diet by 2032 compared to 2019: 30% less meat, 20% more fruit & vegetables, and 50% more fibre.
For healthy children
Whole plant-based foods are great for our health. They are packed full of nutrients and fibre, are lower in fat and calories than animal-based products, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
Most UK children are fibre-deficient, with almost one-third of children aged 5-10 eating less than one portion of vegetables per day. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer.
Eating more plant-based foods can also help to reduce childhood obesity, which is regarded by the World Health Organisation as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Almost 10% of children starting school in England are obese and by age 10, over a third of school children are overweight or obese.
What will this cost? With budgets tighter than ever, we recognise this is a legitimate concern. However, plant-based meals are on average cheaper than meat-based meals – chickpeas are far cheaper than chicken, and lentils cost a fraction of the price of minced beef!
Almost every one of our dozens of partners has saved money from working with us. You can too!
Plant-based school food
Shifting to more plant-based foods is very much already the direction of change in the public sector.
A campaign was launched in 2020 to reduce the amount of meat served in the public sector by 20%. It attracted widespread support from the industry, including LACA.
A study earlier last year found that over 80% of public sector caterers have committed to meat reduction, and 83% have committed to increasing plant proteins by 20%.
Young people’s attitudes are changing
A YouGov survey found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of 11-18 year olds said the environment and climate change was one of their most important issues for the country.
Those in the survey who wanted to eat less meat also said they wanted to see more meat-free options made available at school since they’re not always able to influence shopping habits at home.
We bring our plant-based chef to your development chefs or school cooks, to educate and inspire everyone to think and work differently with plant-based food. These are our Plant-based Cooking in Schools Workshops.
SCHOOL PLATES TRAINING SESSIONS
In our half-day or one-day sessions, we explain why it’s important to get children to try and enjoy more plant-based foods. And most importantly, how to do this.
We cover the health and environmental benefits, some nutrition basics, useful ingredients you may not be familiar with and how to best use them. We bring copies of The Recipes, our all-important recipe guide with 35 of our tried-and-tested plant-based recipes designed specifically for school caterers – all of which are compliant with nutritional guidelines for schools.
We’ll guide you step-by-step through cooking some of your favourite dishes from The Recipes. When the prep and cooking is finished, we all get to enjoy the food your cooks have created and see what they make of it all.
We can also deliver webinars for groups of schools or school caterers on sustainability or plant-based health. You can register for our upcoming workshops here.
Our mission is to make preparing plant-based food a pleasure, not a chore. Hopefully, like our past trainees, you’ll leave feeling knowledgeable, inspired and confident to get stuck in creating your own recipes!
Our partners are doing incredible work to make their school menus healthier and more sustainable. We want to make sure their work is highlighted and recognised. Take a look at some of the television features we’ve secured for our partners this year.