A Staffordshire pig farmer and community food project have been commended for their work to get local families eating more healthily.
Rob Mercer from Farm Fresh Revolution and a fourth-generation free-range pig farmer is giving fresh food including free-range sausages and chicken away to families at primary schools in Staffordshire.
Every Friday afternoon during term time, a van, packed with fresh free-range pork, chicken and eggs, vegetables and fruit, arrives to set up a stall before pick-up time at selected schools. Here families of school children are encouraged to pick up the food along with recipes to help them cook fresh meals. The food bags are free of charge although people are asked to make a donation if they can. The vans, deliveries and packing is all carried out by local volunteers.
Since the scheme started in January 2017 around 7000 food bags have been delivered to families at 6 schools in Staffordshire, with four new schools soon to be added to the scheme in 2018.
Philip Atkins, Leader at Staffordshire County council and a farmer himself has praised the scheme saying it was a great example of farmers spending a little of their time helping families access fresh locally produced food.
“This is a wonderfully simple project that is bringing local organisations, volunteers and farmers together to make a real difference to local families. Getting access to fresh food is essential for children to grow up healthily and for their overall development. Also, learning healthy eating habits at an early age and replacing processed foods with more fresh food not only helps make people healthier but can also help to prevent ill health in later life. This initiative really shows what can be achieved when organisations and individuals come together to tackle local issues.”
Rob and Sally Mercer, founders of Farm Fresh Revolution were inspired to set up the scheme after Rob visited food schemes in countries around the world whilst looking at what farmers can do for UK food security. Rob said:
“we want to inspire young families to eat more fresh food and farmers to link up with schools. There are people going hungry who aren’t getting enough food and people who are unhealthy because they aren’t getting the right food. We want to inspire children through experience and visits to our farm education sites to help them learn more about fresh food, why we eat it, and where it comes from.”
Schools involved include:
- Moorhill Primary (Cannock)
- Redhill Primary (Cannock)
- Armitage Hill (Tamworth)
- Two Rivers (Tamworth)
- Sandon Primary School, Crescent Primary and St Nathaniels (all in Stoke-on-Trent)
Steve McKendrick is a volunteer for farm fresh revolution and said:
“There’s always a buzz when people pick up the food. Children clamber to look at, feel and eat the fruit, that’s what they’re always most excited about. We regularly have parents saying they love the meat, trying different veg and have cooked new recipes that we put in their bags”
Sarah Sindrey, Headteacher at Moorhill Primary in Cannock – one of the schools benefitting from the scheme commented,
“The children are getting involved, cooking with their parents. We have also had parents sending in photos of their meals.”
For more information, to get involved, donate or volunteer for the scheme go to www.farmfreshrevolution.com