Half a dozen Thurrock schools — from infants to secondary — were celebrating on Thursday (1 December).
They were among 15 schools from Thurrock and Havering at the Food for Life Partnership Bronze Award Ceremony at the High House Production Park on Purfleet.
The ceremony was for schools that have excelled in transforming their food culture and is the first of its kind to be held in Essex.
Thurrock schools children and staff were presented with a Bronze Award by Cllr Charlie Curtis, Mayor of Thurrock.
The awards went to East Tilbury Infants and Junior, Ormiston Park Academy, Orsett Primary, St Mary’s Primary, and Woodside Primary — with the young people giving a small speech on their achievements.
The schools work with the Food for Life Partnership to transform their food culture and that of their communities by reconnecting children with climate-friendly and healthy food through growing and cooking activities and farm visits.
The Bronze Award means schools have started to serve seasonal school meals with three-quarters of the dishes being freshly prepared by a well-trained school cook.
Pupils and parents are involved in planning improvements to school menus and the dining experience, and every pupil has the opportunity to visit a farm and cook and grow food during his or her time at school.
Over a dozen of the schools are catered for by the Thurrock and Havering Catering Service, which has achieved the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark for its meals served to over 90 schools in the two boroughs.
Kevin Hobart catering Operations Manager at Thurrock and Havering Catering Services, said: “I’m really pleased that our work to achieve the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark has helped these schools kick off their journey to transform food culture in London and Essex.
“We would now like to extend this to more of our schools so they can benefit. School food provision should be an integral part of pupils’ education – they can learn about animal welfare and local, seasonal food, see it growing and then to eat it as part of their lunch and they will leave school with a desire to make healthy choices.”
Also at the ceremony, Thurrock Council celebrated winning the Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg award.
The council was among 40 hospitals, educational centres and local councils to be presented a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award at the end of November. The award was presented by Compassion in World Farming for Thurrock Council efforts to help improve the welfare of millions of farm animals.