Home » Greening canteens: How the School Plates program is reshaping school menus

Greening canteens: How the School Plates program is reshaping school menus

By Billy Nicholles, New Food Hub Writer at ProVeg International

Serving plant-based success on school plates

In the UK, school catering constitutes the largest segment of public sector catering, accounting for 45% of all meals served, at 1.2 billion per year. If we want our public institutions to be more healthy, sustainable, and plant-rich, then schools are a good place to start. 

This, along with their striking success to date, was the motivation for my recent conversation with Colette Fox, Head of Program at ProVeg UK’s School Plates program

The School Plates program advocates for and assists schools in transitioning to more plant-rich school meals. They use evidence-based behavioral nudges to increase the consumption of plant-based food in schools.

Having started in 2018 with one local authority partner, the program enters 2024 working with a quarter of local authorities in the UK, and with the ambition to double that number in the next two years.

Greening Canteens: How the School Plates programme is reshaping school menus
Source: Pexels/Yan Krukau

The School Plates program offers a range of services, at no cost, to help schools transition to more plant-rich menus. They will review any school catering menu against evidence-based criteria based on nudge theory, and their awards scheme rewards schools for positive plant-based changes.

They also recently launched a global school plates network to share best practices and foster peer-to-peer networking. The full list of services can be found on their website.   

I sat down with Colette to discuss the details behind the campaign, her learnings to date, and her advice to anyone who wants to make a plant-based change in schools.

Bitesize interview insights

  • Don’t underestimate the power of small menu changes – seemingly small nudges like changing the order or name of dishes can work wonders! 
  • Focus on the popular dishes, and find out whether they can be made plant-based.
  • Harness the power of tasty plant-based cooking. Use this to convince stakeholders and sceptics. 
  • ProVeg UK is here to help! Please get in touch with them for more support.

Watch the 20 minute interview with Colette Fox to uncover all the insights.

Hungry for more?

Plant-based food in public institutions like schools is a growing trend, and initiatives like the School Plates program are helping to facilitate this transition. If you’d like more support on your plant-based strategy, you can contact ProVeg’s experts at [email protected], or the School Plates program at [email protected]

Billy Nicholles 

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