Mention the words “school dinners” and every generation has its own take. Many of those who grew up in the 1960s still carry the scars of “like it or lump it” lumpy custard, lumpy gravy, lumpy mash and lumpy tapioca. By the 1990s it was all Turkey Twizzlers and chips with everything, which while popular with the kids, was not so kind with the nation’s waistlines.
These days, of course, school dinners are the subject of fierce political debate, which intensified during the pandemic when parents shared images of the food their children were being sent to eat at home. It led to Marcus Rashford and others shining a light on the nation’s child poverty issue.
But still the issue persists and this week culinary stars and food campaigners, including Prue Leith and Tom Kerridge, are backing a new ad campaign to highlight the importance of quality school meals, as part of a UK-wide initiative by Chefs in Schools, a charity which works to transform school food and food education.
Partnering with BBH London, the charity has developed a new tone of voice and visual identity to embody a revolutionary tone, demanding to be heard in a playful, positive manner and targeting the organisation’s key audiences of parents, teachers and politicians.
The campaign centres on a new film, created by BBH, which is fronted by children who want us all to “give a sausage” about what’s on their lunch plates, because “feeding us well at school feeds a better future”.
Filmed in a London primary school, the ad features a series of kids laying out the facts about school meals. It starts with a boy saying “Nobody gives a sausage about what I eat at school” because “everyone thinks the whole school meals thing was fixed ages ago”.
Other kids chip in: “So many school lunches are still stuck in the turkey dinosaur age and it’s feeding unhealthy futures.” Then others add: “So now these people called Chefs in Schools give a sausage, and want you to give a sausage too. To put proper meals on lunch plates across the country because feeding us well at school feeds a better future. That’s why kids like us need Chefs in Schools.”
As the director says “cut”, one kid stands up and asks: “Is it lunchtime yet? Hungry work, that.”
This campaign wants people to continue the conversation about the importance of good food being served in schools, challenging the UK to take action to make sure every child can access a quality school meal.
Tom Kerridge, who is also co-founder of Full Time Meals with Marcus Rashford, said: “This is a cause close to my heart. It’s heartbreaking to think that 4.2 million children in the UK are living in poverty, no child should go to bed hungry but far too many do. Serving good food in schools is vital if we want children to learn and reach their potential.”
BBH London chief executive Karen Martin added: “Chefs in Schools is an incredible organisation and it’s been a pleasure to partner with them in their mission to make healthy food accessible to all. My own daughters are at a school that works with Chefs in Schools and I have seen first hand the difference it makes to serve nutritious lunches that keep everyone happy.”
Alongside the film, BBH has created a series of print executions that will feature in OOH sites in London and Manchester, in space which has been donated by street advertising specialists Jack and City Outdoor Media. The campaign will also be running on social media and will be fronted by chefs, food producers and influencers such as Kerridge, Leith, Chantelle Nicholson, Amelia Freer and Thomasina Miers.
Overall, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the charity, asking people to donate, write to their MPs, and speak constructively to schools about how to make lunches as healthy as possible. It also encourages schools to sign up to a School Food Charter, which is a commitment to serving freshly made, high quality school meals.
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Chefs in Schools and author of the National Food Strategy, said: “We have an obesity crisis in this country, although you can’t fix everything with school food, you have such a vital time to intervene in how children interact with food so if you can teach them through the food they eat in the dining hall, you have an opportunity to shape their eating habits for life.
“In many school kitchens there are staff interested in food who want to cook it – we’re saying to schools – sign up to the charter and give your kitchen teams the training and freedom to make great school food from scratch that will fuel the future well.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
What’s not to like? While many have got rich in the pandemic, and Branson and Bezos have been trying to outdo each other in space, too many kids have suffered, and are still going hungry.
Can there be any issue more pressing than food poverty? We think not. The ads are great, too.
Decision Marketing Adometer: A ‘food for thought’ 10 out of 10