Whole Kids Foundation is built on a spirit of collaboration, and we act as a catalyst for change by investing in partnerships with respected experts in the fields of nutrition and education.   

Together, we amplify each other’s efforts to improve children's nutrition and wellness.   

Throughout 2023, we are spotlighting our current partners and how these organizations are growing the next generation of healthy eaters. 

Our partners in the UK, School Food Matters (SFM), exist to teach children about food and to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable food during their time at school. They were born out of a grassroots campaign to transform meals in schools in the London area and since 2007 they have been using their extensive knowledge, gained from working with children, parents and teachers, to advocate for better school meals and vital food education. 

Since 2013, Whole Kids Foundation has partnered with School Food Matters on their innovative Schools to Market program where children and schools go on a journey from seed to supermarket, and are taken through the steps of food production from harvesting their own crops, all the way to learning how to make delicious chutneys from their veggies, marketing their product, and selling directly to real customers at Whole Foods Market stores across London.

In addition, together we also make Garden Grant and Honeybee programmes available to schools across London.

We reached out to, Stephanie Slater, Founder and Chief Executive at School Food Matters, to get the scoop on how they are helping kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods.  

WHOLE KIDS FOUNDATION (WKF): What is School Food Matter’s approach to advancing children’s nutrition and wellness?

School Food Matters (SFM): At School Food Matters we want every child to have access to nutritious food so that they are well-nourished and ready to learn. To achieve this, we work with school caterers, head teachers and families to get the best possible food service across the whole school day. In the UK one in three 11-year-olds is categorised as obese and only 18% eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. If we can provide every child with a healthy, sustainable school meal every day, we are moving some way towards tackling this problem. Our food education programmes support our work by helping children understand where their food comes from, encouraging them to take a greater interest in what they eat, and make healthier food choices as a result.



SFM: During the eleven years that School Food Matters has been working with the Foundation, the Schools to Market programme has reached over 55,000 children. The relationship has enabled us to take more than 4,700 children to visit a farm, and over £15,500 has been raised by children on Market Day to put back into food education projects at their schools. Beyond this, 3,600 children have learned all about the importance of honeybees and pollinators by taking part in our Honeybee Programme, and more than 330 schools have created an edible growing space through the Garden Grants programme.  So, I think you could say that the impact has been considerable! 


SFM: The Whole Foods stores and team members are vital to the Schools to Market programme and we are so grateful for their support. We start off each round of the programme by visiting the stores for a Team Member Education session where we share all the latest news on our Whole Kids programmes and tell everyone about upcoming Schools to Market events for which we need their help. Stores then host a Store Mission where schools come and learn all about marketing, and of course they host our fantastic Market Day where the children come into store to sell all their home-made chutneys. Along the way, team members are invited along on our farm trips to meet the children from local schools. It’s great for the students to meet Whole Foods team members in a real work environment as it’s so rare for them to get the chance to find out about careers in the food industry from people who are actually working there.  We were so pleased to host a whole gang of Whole Foods team members in June 2022 when they visited the UK. It was heart-warming to see Whole Foods CEO, Jason Buechel, at Crockford Bridge farm harvesting fresh veg with children from London schools.

WKF: What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about School Food Matter’s work to ensuring children have access to nutritious meals in schools?

SFM: School Food Matters has been campaigning to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable school meals for the last 16 years. Quality nutrition is crucial for children’s health and development, and school food is the best option in providing that. We know, for example, that in England only 1.6% of packed lunches meet the same nutritional standards, as most packed lunches contain things like cold sandwiches and crisps. School food also provides a unique opportunity to shield children from the unhealthy takeaways found on high streets. 

Sadly, across England today, too many children are missing out on the nutrition they need to thrive. Almost one million children living in poverty are not eligible for free school meals due to the harsh £7,400/year household income threshold.  

This is why we have brought together The School Food Review, a coalition of organisations, including local authorities, schools, caterers, and campaigners, advocating for a government-led reform of school food policy and funding. We all agree that it makes no sense to means test children for food. We want to see every child, no matter where they grow up, having delicious and nutritious, fully funded school food. 

WKF: What current or upcoming project or program is your team excited about right now?

SFM: This year, with additional funding from Whole Kids Foundation we can make our projects even more impactful. In 2024 we are able to double the number of students that we take out to a farm, give out even more School Garden Grants and offer more support to grant winners by offering gardening training, and sessions with our School Food Matters gardeners. Our plan is to equip our Garden Grant schools with more knowledge and guidance to create edible growing spaces that will keep on delivering well into the future. We have a very exciting year ahead.