Eco-conscious pupils from East Ayrshire received a Royal seal of approval as HRH Prince Charles commended their efforts to reduce food waste.
Youngsters from the Robert Burns Academy, in Cumnock, attended a celebration event at Dumfries House last week after completing the piloting education program ‘Food For The Future’, run by The Prince’s Foundation.
The program aimed to promote sustainability and combat food waste by giving young people a greater understanding of how the food system works, how it impacts the environment and how to better champion sustainable practices.
Students were shown how to grow, harvest and cook produce, the science behind healthy soil, and why access to nutritious healthy food that is locally sourced and seasonally available is key to solving the problem of food waste.
And the program not only benefited pupils’ understanding around food, but kickstarted a new initiative at the school where by leftover food from the canteen is repurposed and made available to the local community.
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Peter Gilchrist, head teacher of Robert Burns Academy, said: “The amount of work that these young people have put into their local communities, and to the role of the sustainability agenda, has been an enormous task for them but they have thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from it. We are very proud of them.”
At the celebration event last week, pupils demonstrated what they had learned, with their presentations judged by a panel of industry experts, including the Jamie Oliver Group and Asda supermarket.
His Royal Highness then presented an award to pupils in recognition of their work, with Robert Burns Academy scooping first prize and Ardrossan Academy coming second.
The schools were also awarded gardening and home economics equipment provided by Asda, and vouchers for local garden centers thanks to generous donations from Keenan’s Recycling, Davidson’s Animals Feeds and Baynes the Bakers.
Iona Murray, food, farming and horticulture coordinator for The Prince’s Foundation, said: “The education team here at The Prince’s Foundation have been so impressed with how well the pupils have engaged with the programme, and we are very much looking forward to seeing how they use the knowledge and skills they have gained to help reduce food waste in their homes, schools and local communities.”
Food For The Future has been developed with support from Jamie Oliver, Jimmy Doherty, The Soil Association and Business in the Community.
Also involved in delivery of the program were the National Farming Union, Royal Highland Education Trust, and local farmers and food producers who demonstrated innovation and good practice.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.