Boris Johnson dishes out £42,000 funding pot for Croydon schools to grow own food

The Mayor of London has announced £42,000 worth of  funding that will allow schools in Croydon, and across the borough, to grow their own food.

The School Garden Grant aims to encourage schools across the borough to grow their own produce in order to help educate children about the important role food plays as part of a healthy lifestyle.

This follows on from last year when Croydon was one of only two London boroughs to be granted Food Flagship status, which works to tackle child obesity through better diets and food education.

Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care, said: “We’re totally behind the concept of informing our children of the values of eating fresh, nutritious, whole foods.”

The scheme gives state- funded schools the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,000 to go towards the creation and maintenance of edible gardens, giving pupils a taste of clean eating.

Figures show that a healthy diet is a top concern for London’s children, with 10.8% starting primary school at an unhealthy weight and one in five classed as obese by the age of 11.

A poor diet at an early age is proven to link with complications later in life ranging from Type 2 Diabetes to cancer, costing health budgets around £5bn a year.

Councillor Woodley said: “I’d urge all our schools to apply for this funding that will help them to give our young people an attitude toward good food that will set them up for a healthy life as they get older.

“Together we’re growing healthy kids.”

The mayor has teamed the School Garden Grants alongside the Whole Kids Foundation – which has successfully run the scheme in the US and Canada for five years – to pilot the London program.

Chair of London Food, Rosie Boycott, said: “Eating well helps not only with avoiding health problems now and in the future, but has been shown to be a key ingredient to classroom success.

“Good, nutritious food helps to keep children alert during school time and to sustain them throughout the day.”

The application process for grants closes on December 4.

Picture courtesy of Stephen Lock, with thanks

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