Students at Leeds Beckett team up with Fuel for School to cut out food waste in Leeds

Education students at Leeds Beckett are helping to fuel primary schools in Leeds as they join forces with the Real Junk Food Project to promote the benefits of recycling wasted food.

Fuel for School began as a partnership between the Real Junk Food Project and Richmond Hill Primary School in Hunslet with the aim of removing hunger as a barrier to learning, highlighting the importance of nutrition and wellbeing in learning, and raising awareness of the vast amounts of wasted (yet perfectly edible) food in our communities.

Richmond Hill, led by Head Teacher Nathan Atkinson, joined forces with the Real Junk Food Project to provide free breakfasts to all 600 pupils at the primary school and found that this had a positive effect on their behaviour, concentration and attainment. This was followed by a community pay-as-you-feel café and daily market stall within the school grounds.

Fuel for School is now working with more than 35 primary schools in the Leeds area, delivering surplus food once a week which is used for breakfast clubs, ingredients in cooking classes, or through school market stalls. Each school is visited by Fred the Fox (Fuel for School’s mascot who stands for the values Feed, Recycle, Educate, Dine) and provided with a range of educational resources designed to improve wellbeing.

To cope with the increasing demand, students on the BA (Hons) Education Studies course at Leeds Beckett will be working with the Real Junk Food Project on developing their educational resources and designing and developing new Fuel for School activities.

Anne Temple Clothier, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, explained: “A team of students will work with Fuel for School, as a work placement, to develop education packs for use within schools. Our students are very enthusiastic about the project and can’t wait to start. By working with the Real Junk Food Project, they get the opportunity to work on something that really matters to them. They will be hands-on in terms of applying their learning into new and non-traditional contexts, broadening their understanding of the professional practice and developing their employability skills.”

Kevin Mackay, Co-ordinator of Fuel for School, added: “Fuel for School aims to empower the next generation to really feed the world. Through diverting food otherwise destined for landfill to the bellies of young children, and delivering an outstanding educational pack, this can be achieved. The collaboration between the project and the Education Studies students at Leeds Beckett University is extremely exciting and I am sure it will be the start of a very proud and productive relationship between the organisations.

“The students will take a hands-on role by developing and delivering areas within the project and gaining invaluable experience in a wide range of educational settings. Fuel for School will gain input from the future minds of education. The education packs produced will be used all over the country by thousands of children.  The Real Junk Food Project embodies community and encourages humanity: this collaboration is a perfect example of that.”

The Real Junk Food Project was founded four years ago by Adam Smith, who was appalled to find out that around one third of all food produced across the world ends up in landfill. Adam started with a pay-as-you-feel café in Armley where food that would have been wasted is cooked and served by volunteers to the community. Food can be paid for by either money or time and labour. This led to an international network of 110 cafes which has, so far, saved more than 107,000 tons of food from being wasted.

Adam has now opened England’s first pay-as-you-feel surplus supermarket in Pudsey, Leeds.

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