Continuing our series of posts where we take a closer look at the charities we’ve chosen to support with our 2017 Do Some Good campaign, this month I wanted to focus on the Children’s Food Trust (CFT).
However, this months post will take a bit of a different slant. Sadly, a few months ago it was announced that the Children’s Food Trust will close at the end of September 2017.
Based in Sheffield, the CFT has been offering cookery courses and nutritional advice to schools and nurseries in England, Wales and Scotland for more than 10 years now.
Sadly, a lack of funding has forced them to shut their doors with the loss of 47 jobs, 31 of them in Sheffield. Charity chief executive Linda Cregan was quoted in an article on the BBC as follows:
“Given the political and economic climate all charities are facing difficulties and we are no different. We remain passionate and dedicated to improving child health, but it has proved impossible to continue to deliver our services and extremely reluctantly the trustees have chosen to close the trust. It is our priority at this point to speak to all our funders and partners to ensure a smooth transition and a positive legacy.”
Why was the Children’s Food Trust so important here in the UK
Echoing the sentiments of CFT chair of trustees, Adam Starkey, we’re still facing a crisis in child health in the UK. It is a huge challenge, and the closing of the CFT just seems mind boggling given how much they’re needed.
Our children just aren’t eating enough fruit and veg, while there is simply too much saturated fat, sugar and salt in their diets.
Around one in five children in the UK is overweight or obese as they start school; that will rise to one in three by the time they leave primary school.
Our teachers are continuing to report pupils starting the school day hungry.
While, families struggling on the tightest of food budgets are saying they put calories before nutrition just to get food on the table!
Who were the Children’s Food Trust
The Children’s Food Trust mission was a simple one. To share the skills and knowledge needed to deliver the confidence to cook fresh healthy food from scratch. They wanted to help anyone who provides food for children and encourage the wider food industry to help families make better food choices.
Every child has the right to nutritious food. We know that when children eat better, they do better at school. The CFT existed because there is a clear need in the UK to get children eating better.
The charity was set up in 2005 with a £15m grant from the government. Two years later it was awarded £20m by the Lottery Fund. It also received funding from a number of organisations and companies, including supermarket chains, for a variety of fixed-term projects.
The charity was made up of experts in children’s food. The team brought together nutritionists, cooks, caterers, food technologists and specialists in early years and school food to offer unrivalled support, training and advice to anyone responsible for providing food to children.
And since they started they’ve helped more than 11 million children gain access to healthier food. Something those children will take into adulthood. Adults who are less likely to suffer from health conditions linked to poor diet. That means cutting costs for the NHS, a more productive workforce and families passing on better food habits to future generations!
The Children’s Food Trust faced a huge challenge, and that challenge has not gone away, which is what makes the closure such a shame. They played a pivotal role in the transformation of school meals.
They were responsible for leading the launch of the first national school food standards and guidelines on healthy food in childcare for England. They created the Let’s Get Cooking club network, supported schools to get ready for Universal Infant Free School Meals and taught thousands of children and parents how to get cooking in the school holidays across the UK.
It’s a sad day when a charity that has done so much good is forced to close due to lack of funding!