Food for Life: Sustainable School Food Program Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: A project of the Soil Association in the United Kingdom, Food for Life encourages access to healthy, sustainable meals for all children. It involves multiple programs and local partnerships that can be implemented by local authorities and customized to fit the needs and resources of the community. It includes providing support for schools, early childhood settings, hospitals, and caterers to improve the quality, healthfulness, and sustainability of the foods they serve.  

The project resulted from the 2003 Food for Life report, which exposed the poor quality of food in many UK schools. 

How they do it: The Food for Life team partners with local authorities across the United Kingdom to create tailored programs to meet health-related goals for their specific area. 

Schools and Early Childhood: Food for Life helps school and early childhood education staff increase their knowledge and skills around food education and food service. When schools sign up to join Food for Life, they become eligible to receive training, resources, and support to improve school food quality and to incorporate cooking and gardening lessons into the students’ curricula. Food for Life awards are given to schools and early childhood settings that create an action framework and meet criteria related to food quality and sourcing, leadership, education, and community engagement. 

Catering: Food for Life Served Here is a certification that indicates caterers’ commitment to climate and health through a focus on fresh, local, and sustainable foods. The Green Kitchen Standard is awarded to caterers that make significant efforts to reduce energy, water use, and waste. Training and consultation packages on topics such as waste reduction, sustainability policies, menu development, and nutritional analysis are also available. Schools and hospitals are encouraged to work with food providers that have received Food for Life Served Here certification. 

Culinary Training: Food for Life uses a train-the-trainer model to help schools and businesses develop community cooking programs and culinary education lessons.

Annual Campaigns: Plant and Share is Food for Life’s annual month-long springtime campaign to encourage people to get involved in gardening. Cook and Share is an annual fall campaign that encourages people to come together as a community through cooking and conversation. During these campaigns, Food for Life provides resources, recipes, and activity ideas for individual and community participation. 

Mission: To increase access to healthy and sustainable meals for all children in order to ignite a passion for good food that will last a lifetime.

Major Funding: Not disclosed

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Not disclosed

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Students in Food for Life schools are twice as likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, and one-third less likely to eat no fruits and vegetables at all, compared to students in schools that do not participate in Food for Life. 


Soil Association
Food for Life
Spear House
51 Victoria Street

Core Programs: School and early childhood center food awards, catering certification, campaigning, and advocacy

Number of staff: 7

Number of volunteers: Unknown

Areas served: Leicestershire, Medway, Walsall, Sheffield, Lancashire, West Northamptonshire 

Year Started: 2003

Senior Business Development Manager: Caron Longden

Head of Food, Food for Life Scotland: Sarah Duley 

Contact Information: Email: 

Learn More:

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