Food Service

Serving Plant-Based Success on School Plates: Interview with ProVeg UK’s School Plates Programme

“We started in 2018 with one local authority partner in the UK. Six years on we’re working with a quarter of all the local authorities in the UK. That’s about 6,300 schools, over a million meals a day that we’re influencing, and over 12 million meals that we’ve swapped from meat-based to plant-based. So it seems to be working,” says Colette Fox, Head of Programme at ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme.

The School Plates programme, run by the UK branch of international food awareness NGO, ProVeg International, has had some striking success. Harnessing the power of behavioural nudges (and, of course, delicious plant-based food), the team is making a big impact in school canteens across the United Kingdom.

The scheme is continuing to grow, with plans to double the influence on local authorities in the UK in the next two years, the team has recently launched a global school plates network to share best practices and foster peer-to-peer networking.

In its latest video, ProVeg’s New Food Hub sat down with Colette Fox, Head of Programme at ProVeg UK’s School Plates programme, to discuss the details behind the campaign. In the interview, Colette shared her learnings to date, and her advice to anyone who wants to make a plant-based change in schools.

school children with watermelon painting
Image courtesy of ProVeg International

According to Colette, schools are an obvious place to target when seeking to bring about a more sustainable, plant-rich food system. Schools are educational hubs that nurture future generations. By putting plant-based food at the centre of canteen menus, children are learning through doing (specifically, eating), and reaping both the educational and nutritional benefits of plant-based food.

In the UK, school catering accounts for 45% of all meals served, at a whopping 1.2 billion per year. That makes it the largest segment of UK public sector catering, well above the 11% of meals that are served in hospitals, another important site for plant-based food provision.

The interview contains valuable wisdom on behavioural nudging best practices, why the programme has received such a positive reaction from teachers and parents, and where to start if you want to make a change at your school. (If you’re in the UK, the programme lists its no-cost range of services to schools, here).

You can watch the full interview and gain all the insights on the New Food Hub.

Find more expert quotes and analysis in the full article on the New Food Hub, and get in touch with their expert team directly at [email protected].

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