Mayor & Whole Kids Foundation tackle child obesity with £42k fund

16 October 2015


  • Lambeth and Croydon schools eligible to apply for share of £42,000 School Garden Grant
  • Mayor has partnered with Whole Kids Foundation to pilot the programme in the UK


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, today confirmed details of a £42,000 funding pot that will allow schools in Lambeth and Croydon to grow their own food as part of his ongoing drive to tackle obesity in the capital and get young Londoners eating more healthily. Today’s announcement comes on World Food Day as Rosie Boycott, Chair of London, joins UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other influential leaders at the Milan Expo to discuss the challenge of sustainably eradicating hunger and poverty over the next 15 years.


10.8 per cent of London’s children are already dangerously obese when they start primary school and by age 11, one in five are obese. Poor diet is linked to further complications later in life, ranging from Type 2 diabetes to cancer whilst the cost to health budgets has been estimated at £5 billion a year currently and is rising. 


The School Garden Grants scheme will give state funded schools in both boroughs the chance to apply for grants ranging between £300 and £3,000 to create or improve edible gardens, which will be used to educate children about the food they eat and help them to lead healthier lives.


Lambeth and Croydon were both selected by the Mayor to be Food Flagship Boroughs last year, working to tackle child obesity through better diets and food education. In a UK first, the boroughs are making changes to the way food is served in schools, hospitals, and - working with major supermarkets and other retailers - on the high street. The aim is to show that joined up thinking can improve health and academic attainment of pupils and also of adults in the local communities they serve. 


The Mayor has teamed up with Whole Kids Foundation to deliver the School Garden Grants scheme. Whole Kids Foundation – the charitable arm of Whole Foods Market – has run the scheme in the US and Canada for five years, with impressive results. Their work there has funded 3,014 school gardens, trained 8,438 teachers and served 3.796,922 students. By encouraging children to plant, nurture, harvest, cook and eat food they have grown themselves, the pilot scheme in London will help them to foster a love of good food and increase understanding of how diet impacts on health.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I am delighted to be working with Whole Kids Foundation to introduce this innovative scheme into Croydon and Lambeth schools as the boroughs continue their great work to improve diets and attitudes to food.”


“As our city grows, it's vital we equip our kids with the all the skills they need to not only get a job but to see them lead a happy and healthier life. Of course, growing their own food will do this, with the added benefit of helping to trim the multi-billion pound burden on the taxpayer that stems from unhealthy eating and poor food related illness.”


The scheme will consider requests ranging from tools to training, equipment to part-funding a school gardener until the application process closes on 4 December 2015.


Benjamin Woodgate from Whole Kids Foundation said: “Helping kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods is our number one priority and we know that given the right opportunities, kids will get excited about fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious whole foods. We are delighted to have partnered with the Mayor of London to deliver Garden Grants to local school – together we are growing healthy kids.”


As well as work in schools, the two Food Flagship Boroughs are demonstrating the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment.


Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “School Garden Grants are a great way to harness the enthusiasm of teachers, children and parents towards eating more fruit, vegetables and quality, affordable food.


“Eating well helps not only to avoid health problems now and in the future, but has been shown to be a key ingredient to classroom success. Good, nutritious food help to keep children alert during school time and to sustain them throughout the day.”

Notes to editors

1. The London Food Flagship programme has established two Food Flagship boroughs: Croydon and Lambeth. Using the School Food Plan as a critical foundation, the Flagships will demonstrate the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment, using schools as a catalyst to drive this change. While there will only be two Flagships, the initiative is intended to impact all of London. By investing to transform the food system in two concentrated areas, the benefits will be learnt and shared across the whole city and beyond.


2. Whole Kids Foundation is dedicated to helping kids eat better—and enjoy it!

Whole Kids Foundation is a non-profit – (UK charity number pending) founded by Whole Foods Market and guided by the same values, principles, expertise and standards for quality ingredients, food production methods and nutrition.

Whole Kids in the UK

We are currently in the process of acquiring a UK charity number but that hasn’t stopped us from working hard to support local schools & inspire children to grow and eat more fruit and vegetables.

  • In 2012 we taught 1,000 children aged 5-10 from over 15 schools in Gloucestershire how to cook a healthy meal.  
  • In 2013 we proudly provided our first grants to school gardens in the United Kingdom.
  • In 2014/15 we launched our 5-step “Schools to Market” program, taking thousands of children on the journey from seed to supermarket shelf. Children from local schools are taken on a foodie adventure from seed to supermarket – including farm visits, jam making masterclasses, merchandising workshops and finally selling handmade jam and chutney at our stores.

Our Mission

We support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness.

Our Goals

  • Help kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods
  • Increase access to and consumption of these foods in schools
  • Inspire families to prepare and share these foods at home
  • Encourage community action that supports healthier kids
  • Create support tools for educators, who play a vital role in modelling and teaching healthy choices


3. The London Food Flagship programme is one of a number of initiatives supported by the Mayor aimed at tackling obesity amongst school children. They include the multi-million pound Sports Legacy programme to get young people and the wider population involved in physical activity; the Healthy Schools London awards, which supports and recognises school achievements in pupil health and wellbeing; and the Takeaways Toolkit, which the different ways that local authorities can tackle the impact of fast food on Londoners' health, for example by limiting the number of fast food outlets near schools.

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