By Angela Green, Content Executive, H&C News: BeanMeals project to promote the power of beans in schools.
Food for Life began a new project this month with BeanMeals, a collaborative project grant funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) and led by Oxford University.
Food for Life is a Soil Association programme that supports schools to get pupils eating healthy food and reconnect them with where their food comes from. Food for Life strives to support schools in their good food and growing learning, encouraging positive food and health attitudes for life.
The project will last two years, and it aims to improve the sustainability of supply chains, focusing on bean growth and consumption in the UK.
BeanMeals will encourage the cooking and eating of meals made with dried beans to support an increase in low fat, sugar and salt meals made with healthy plant-based proteins.
The National Food Strategy White Paper committed to research and innovation in alternative proteins and states that “British grown beans and pulses are another great example of low carbon sustainable proteins that contribute to healthy diets”. As well as being a great source of protein and fibre, dried beans are minimally processed so can support a reduction in consumption of ultra-processed foods. The University of Warwick has developed two haricot beans which are suitable for UK growing – Godiva and Capulet.
As part of the project, Food for Life aims to:
- Enhance food knowledge for children and families.
- Enable teachers and senior leadership teams to increase discussions about healthy diets with bean-based low FSS (fat, salt and sugar) and minimally processed meals.
- Encourage the reduction of high FSS and ultra-processed foods in household meals, beyond the school environment.
The Food for Life team will bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise in creating a ‘whole school approach’ within a community-based food system.
Food for Life already works with over 200 schools in Leicestershire and 89 in Leicester City – and they will work closely with 6 of these schools to implement BeanMeals in their school and local area. They will also be working with Leicestershire Traded Services – a gold Food for Life Served Here caterer – to adapt menus to include more beans on menus – and make them the star of some dishes.
Charlotte Long, Senior Programme Manager at Food for Life speaking of the project said: “We are thrilled to be working on this incredibly important project in Leicestershire, deepening our impact of Food for Life in the area and improving the entire supply chain.
“Beans are a versatile, cheap and delicious way to incorporate protein into diets, particularly at a time when the cost of living is hitting hard, and we all need to eat more mindfully and sustainably to protect the planet. I’m excited to see the innovative new meals that will land on plates in school dining halls and home kitchens. Watch this space.”
Laura Chan, Policy Officer, Healthy and Sustainable Diets says: “We know we need to change what we eat to protect climate and nature, but we need to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. This means eating fewer ultra-processed foods and eating a bit less meat, with the meat we do eat coming from higher welfare farming systems. This exciting project spotlights an often-overlooked minimally processed protein source. By supporting local producers and finding new creative and delicious ways to incorporate beans into school meals, this project will support health and sustainability at the same time.”
To find out more about Food for Life and the BeanMeals project, visit www.foodforlife.org.uk