Every child should eat a healthy and sustainable meal at school, college or nurseryActions 4 Change
We want school meals that are good for both our health and our planet. This is especially important for those of us from low-income families as we need good food to grow and thrive. We want schools to provide young people with healthy food in cafeterias and implement sustainable lunch programmes that would also empower us to adopt better eating habits, such as eating smaller portions of meat and dairy than fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
Why does this Action 4 Change matter?
We all need a healthy and nutritious diet to live our best lives. The food system is responsible for 30% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture threatening 86% species at risk of extinction. There are 3 billion people who can’t afford a healthy diet and 800 million facing hunger. In 2019 it was estimated that 144 million children under five were stunted (too short for their age), and 47 million were wasted (very underweight).
At the same time billions of people are not getting the right nutrients and we’re eating more junk food than ever before. 1 in 3 people are living with overweight or obesity as new processed foods have become more available, more affordable and more cleverly advertised every day.
Youth in Action:
Dev Sharma is a 17-year-old food activist from the UK, and is passionate about altering the injustices he notices in his daily school life and food environment. Dev’s lived experience, growing up going to school in a low-income area and benefiting from the UK Government Free School Meals programme, made him realise how difficult it was for young people to access a healthy diet and this motivated him to campaign for change. He heard about The Food Foundation’s Children’s Right2Food campaign and decided to get involved. He has now been campaigning with them for 3 years, during which time he has met with a number of influential leaders, such as the Prime Minister, to discuss the issues of food poverty in his community as well as trying to improve access and quality of school food.
Dev put his campaigning skills to full use during the COVID-19 pandemic when the UK was in lockdown, when schools closed and children went without their Free School Meal. He shared his views with the media, met with Government Ministers and even supported footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford in his advocacy campaign to end child food poverty. Thanks to these efforts, more than 1 million people signed the petition to support the cause.
The campaigning Dev has been part of has led to some important policy changes – the UK government extended free school meals over the holidays and has for the first time in a decade extended the value of a benefit scheme called ‘Healthy Start’ from £3.10 to £4.25 to support young families in accessing healthy diets. It has also banned junk food advertising on television and online.