Striving for inclusivity with Chefs in Schools

Chefs in Schools train school cooks to create healthy food from scratch and bring food education into the classroom.

Much of my adult life has been devoted to recreating the food idyll of my youth: one where raw ingredients, mostly from the farm, were cooked from scratch and shared around the kitchen table. As a child, I thought this was how everyone ate – but stepping out of my sheltered upbringing into the processed, packaged 1970s, I realised that my food norms were a quaint reminder of a disappearing world. 

Riverford’s box scheme has been guided by a utopian quest to make good food, grown well available to all. When we became employee owned in 2018, this aspiration was enshrined in our articles of association – as well as commitments to look after our suppliers and the environment. But the reality is that a fair price is not always an accessible price. Since the cost-of-living crisis, several co-owners have suggested that we are failing to be inclusive and affordable. They are right. So, when I sold my final shares of Riverford last year, £800k of the proceeds went into a fund dedicated to making our vegetables available to those on low incomes. After much research and debate, we have decided to use £330k to fund the charity Chefs in Schools for four years to support schools in Devon and Cornwall.

Chefs in Schools train school cooks to create healthy food from scratch and bring food education into the classroom. In Yorkshire and London, they have already shown that it is possible to make exciting, creative dinners for as little as 75p in primary schools and 90p in secondary schools – while reducing food poverty, child obesity, and malnutrition. In the current food and health policy vacuum, this initiative represents a crucial step towards ensuring every child enjoys the benefits of a fresh, vegetable-rich diet. It is about more than just feeding children; it is about teaching them the value of good, wholesome food.  

Wherever you are, I encourage those of you with children or grandchildren to find out what they are eating. Even better, ask to join them for a school lunch – and tell their school about the support Chefs in Schools can offer. Have a listen to ‘The Fight to Improve School Food in 2024’ on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme too.


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  1. As happens so often these days when I read the leaflet that arrives with my box – today I was brought to tears!!

    The fact that somebody, somewhere is doing something to help future generations as well as the planet herself is just a joy and an inspiration!!

    Thank you. Just thank you xxxxx

  2. Excellent, well done.
    Although it should not be down to you as an independent business (employee owned) to finance such a venture – maybe it’s the only way we will get back to everyone, children especially, eating proper food & eating healthily again!
    I had thought all the school cooks were long gone these days, it would be good to hear of a return to lots of them back in schools – who can actually cook decent food.
    I don’t have children myself but I do worry about what future they are heading into – you have just made it a little brighter.
    Thank you for all you do.


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