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New business support for Food for Thought programme

New business support for Food for Thought programme

Scotland’s responsible business network, Business in the Community Scotland (BITC Scotland) has announced new corporate partnerships for one of its flagship programmes, Food for Thought. New members of the food education programme’s Phase 4 roll-out include Waitrose, Scottish Beekeepers Association and Holiday Inn Aberdeen.

The new Scottish business partners join existing corporate supporters, including John Lewis, Jamie’s Italian, Apex Hotels, Hamlyns of Scotland, QMU (Queen Margaret University) and chefs Neil Forbes of Cafe St Honore and Paul Wedgwood of Wedgwood the Restaurant. The new recruits mark a strengthening of support from Scotland’s food and drink and hospitality sectors for the initiative, which works towards Scotland’s first national food and drink policy – Becoming a Good Food Nation.

Food for Thought is a three-way partnership between the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and BITC Scotland, which has supported 817 schools (nurseries, primary and secondary schools) so far, with businesses offering over 26,000 volunteering hours. The programme has been running in Scotland since 2013, and aims to involve pupils in nursery, primary and secondary schools in food related projects which encourage healthier eating habits and provide a better understanding of the importance to the Scottish economy of jobs in the food and drink industry.

A third of Scotland’s children are obese or overweight, with 40% of parents in Scotland not cooking from scratch due to time and budget constraints. Scotland’s food and drink industry is worth £14.3bn to the economy, with significant scope for young workforce development.

The collaboration of Scottish business members builds sustainable bridges between businesses and schools. Careers in food and drink, enterprise projects, cooking skills, nutrition, sustainable, local and seasonal food are amongst the topics businesses have been successfully engaging children with in the previous three phases.

Waitrose volunteers will support the Food for Thought programme in Scotland across areas including careers, Fairtrade, healthy eating and the supermarket’s own ‘Grow and Sell’ scheme, which encourages primary schools to grow vegetables and sell them instore. Waitrose will also offer shop tours with tastings and some of its specialists – such as the in-store fish and meat specialists – will spend time with children and young people to explain what they do and share their knowledge. Secondary school pupils will learn more about the world of supermarket retailing and the skills required to work in the sector.

Some primary school children are already growing their own produce and getting ready to sell it, in branches of Waitrose, through the Grow and Sell scheme. Now in its fourth year, the Waitrose scheme aims to inspire 7-11 year olds to grow their own produce during the summer months, learn where food comes from, and develop entrepreneurial skills.

Jane Wood, Managing Director of Business in the Community Scotland, said:

“Business in the Community Scotland enables organisations to engage with young people and inspire educational skills and partnerships – unlocking the ambitions of business for a fairer society through programmes such as Food for Thought, which further develops our young people’s knowledge about food and careers in the sector.

We are working hard to grow, support and sustain Scotland’s future workforce and the Food for Thought programme successfully mixes food with nutrition, science, business, careers and sustainability education, while allowing children to feel empowered and have fun. Our growing movement of responsible business members value the impact they can have on children’s lives, and the business benefits of supporting employee volunteers such as the Waitrose team, whom we are delighted to welcome alongside fellow new members Scottish Beekeepers Association and Holiday Inn Aberdeen.”

Tina Varns, Manager, Community, Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing for Waitrose, said:

“Waitrose is delighted to support Business in the Community Scotland’s Food for Thought programme with our volunteers in Scottish schools and through our Scottish branches and their specialists. We hope that as children and young people learn more about food, they’ll eat healthier and encourage their families to do so.”