School caterer Cityserve has launched the National Food Conversation, a year-long campaign which aims to help draw up a new National Food Strategy.
Cityserve is the education catering division of Birmingham City Council. The school caterer provides around 50,000 school meals across the West Midlands every day. Leon founder Henry Dimbleby, who leads the National Food Strategy, was invited by Cityserve to help with the launch in Birmingham on Wednesday 23rd October.
The campaign is part of the year-long Birmingham Food Conversation, which will form part of the National Food Strategy looking at the entire food chain ‘from field to fork’. The conversation will carry on over the next year across Birmingham as well as other UK cities.
During the visit Henry and the National Food Strategy team spent time at Cityserve to learn about its efforts to educate children on food choices and nutrition. The visitors sat in on one of Cityserve’s engagements with a local school, Bellfield Junior School. One of many regular visits by schools to the organisation’s development kitchen, the session included food tastings, a session cooking healthy food, and a lesson on sugar and nutrition.
“It’s fantastic to be here at Cityserve to launch national food conversations as part of the National Food Strategy,” says Henry. “The government has recognised that we need to change our food system, that we need to create a food system that delivers all of the benefits that it currently does in terms of the supply of an amazing quality of food but does so without making us sick and without harming our environment.
“Those changes are going to come about as a result of some changes in policy and in law but it requires a fundamental cultural change and it’s really exciting seeing what’s happening here at Cityserve teaching children to just to cook but to enjoy food, to taste it, to experience it,” continues Henry. “We need to reconnect with our food, we need to enjoy the pleasure of cooking and eating together if we’re going to have a system for the future that doesn’t make us sick and doesn’t hurt our environment and it’s really exciting to see the grassroots of that here at Cityserve.”
“Being able to welcome the team from the National Food Strategy and show them what we do here in terms of food education was a real privilege,” adds Brian Cape, head of service at Cityserve. “As the organisation responsible for feeding children across the West Midlands every single day, we want to be part of the conversation and play a role in forming national food policy.”
During their day in Birmingham, the National Food Strategy Team also visited the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and women’s community service Anawim. The aim was to encourage people to talk about all aspects of the food we eat, including where it comes from, why we buy particular products, what we are actually consuming and how what we buy affects the whole food chain.
“I’m really pleased to welcome Henry to Birmingham to get this conversation started,” adds Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for health and social care. “It is so important that people think about what they are eating, such as being aware of how much sugar is found in cereals and drinks, and where the food comes from.
“Young people and children need to learn from an early age about nutritional value and how to cook healthy food, even on a tight budget. We want to hear from people across the city, from all communities, and there will be plenty of opportunities to take part in this national conversation. So, let’s talk food.”