Art attacks unhealthy eating in Eastbank Academy

Eastbank Academy and Cordia have taken a creative approach to healthy eating, installing a gallery café as part of the school’s Fuel Zone.
The joint-initiative has been highly successful, as lunchtime Fuel Zone uptake increased to 42.5 per cent since the gallery was put in place last August.

Artistic pupils are able to display their work in the area while young people enjoying lunch can relax in a café style setting containing comfy sofas and seating areas.

Eastbank Academy had the poorest school lunch uptake of any Glasgow secondary school in the city, with only 13 per cent of its pupils using the Fuel Zone in the 2010/11 academic year.

The building is also surrounded by over 25 different fast-food vendors located only walking distance from the main gates which were visited on a daily basis by pupils.

Cordia, together with Eastbank’s head teacher, Gordon Shaw, worked to actively encourage pupils to stay in the school during lunchtime, implementing many changes to the dining hall and menu, culminating with the set-up of the gallery-café.

This is the latest innovative step taken by Cordia and its partners aimed at improving healthy eating in both primary and secondary schools across the city since taking over from Glasgow City Council’s Direct and Care Services in 2009.

Dining areas in secondary schools have been enhanced with the introduction of six café areas offering a range of healthy drinks, snacks and meals for pupils to enjoy both in the café areas or to take away.

Cordia have rolled out external catering huts in eight secondary schools across the city, all with the aim of replicating the offering available on the high street in a healthy and appetising way within school grounds.

Working to the legislation of the Scottish Executive’s ‘Hungry for Success’ report, Fuel Zones have now incorporated a number of changes to service style, menu and their own website promoting the services that are available in secondary schools.

Pupils are also awarded points in an incentive based system to eat well while at school, awarding prizes such as iPads and gym memberships while Cordia regularly organises city-wide competitions to further encourage school-goers to the canteen.

Additionally, since 2010, Cordia has partnered with international aid and development charity, Mary’s Meals, making donations for every meal purchased in Glasgow as a further incentive for children to visit their dining hall at lunchtime.

In primary schools, where Cordia also operates Fuels Zones, the organisation recently launched a fresh and updated website which pupils and parents can access to view Fuel Zone menus, which are continually updated to include more healthy options.

Just before Christmas Cordia also organised a contest amongst primary school pupils to win tickets to the pantomime, while secondary school pupils were treated to tickets to see Diversity perform at the SSE Hydro.

Their work amongst Glasgow’s children has been very successful, with childhood obesity rates in the city drastically falling, according to recently published figures from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

The modernisation of school catering areas has been a working partnership between Cordia and Glasgow City Council’s Education Services. Together, the organisations pursued the overall goal of increasing the amount of healthy food and drinks on offer to pupils and most importantly, providing an enticing alternative to unhealthy options which are available in the vicinity of schools across the city.

Speaking about the success of Fuel Zones, Julia McCreadie, head of facilities management at Cordia, said: “We’re extremely pleased by how popular the café-gallery at Eastbank Academy has been with the pupils.

“Young people want the options available on the high street to be replicated within school dining areas, allowing them to enjoy appetising and healthy meals in comfort with friends.

“We have repeatedly implemented truly novel ideas in schools across the city, enticing an average of 50% of pupils in secondary schools to use the Fuel Zone services.

“Our goal is to continue raising the diversity and appeal of nutritional food which is available in schools, working closely with pupils, teachers and parents to drive forward creative approaches to dining.
Cordia and Glasgow City Council Education Services have been working closely since 2009, spearheading a number of positive initiatives in the city’s primary, secondary and ASL schools.

Councillor Stephen Curran, Executive Member for Education and Young People, said: “Glasgow has been sector-leading in their innovative ways to encourage our young people to adopt health eating habits and an active lifestyle.
“Our school meal service must appeal to all and this can differ from area to area but our officers have worked with young people to listen to their views and adapt the school meal service accordingly.”

Cordia supply the catering in all 138 primary and 30 secondary schools across the Glasgow City boundary.