Year of Food and Farming for schools confirmed

Plans for a Year of Food and Farming in schools are set to be revealed by DEFRA secretary David Miliband.

Starting in September 2007, the Year of Food and Farming will aim to involve all schools in England. 

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will act as Patron for the initiative, which is being led by the food and farming industry, and supported by DEFRA, Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health.

Mr Miliband said: “As consumers we have a great deal of power when it comes to buying food.  As well as influencing our health, the choices we make really do make a difference to our countryside, the environment, and to tackling the biggest challenge we all face: climate change. 

“Consumers need to make informed choices, and where better to start than in educating the next generation.”

The year will also look at how to increase opportunities for local food producers to supply schools, and other public services. 

Mr Miliband said: “The public sector spends around £2 billion on food and catering services each year – this represents a fantastic opportunity for producers. The government’s announcement in September of a further £240 million to continue to subsidise healthy ingredients in school food until 2011 is also good news. 

“This year DEFRA made available £500,000 to support projects to encourage local producers to collaborate and increase their capacity to bid for contracts.  I am pleased to announce similar levels of funding for next year.  It is crucial that the public sector shows leadership by increasing tendering opportunities for small and local producers.”

Sir Don Curry said: “I am delighted that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has agreed to act as the Patron for the Year of Food and Farming.

“I am also pleased that so many industry organisations from across the food, farming, education and health sectors will be working together to make the initiative a success, supported by three government departments.

“It is vital that young people have a better understanding of where their food comes from, how it is produced, and the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet. I believe the Year will provide a fantastic springboard for this and leave a legacy of materials and links which will continue to be used long after this initiative is over.”

The initiative will assist in delivering the government’s Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, which was launched on the 28 November by Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills. 

The Year will include ground-breaking educational events to reconnect young people with the food that they eat. 

National events will include a series of high profile ‘Countryside in the Park’ events, to be organised by Business in the Community and held in inner-city parks.

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