Yesterday it was announced that our co-founders John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby have both been awarded an MBE for their help creating the School Food Plan.

Since the publication of the School Food Plan in July 2013, thousands of schools across the country have transformed their school food culture. With compulsory cooking on the curriculum, new school food standards and free school meals for all 5,6 and 7 year olds, a new golden age for school food is arriving.

Henry and John have worked tirelessly to showcase the great schools and their leaders who do amazing things every day to ensure that children both eat great, tasty nutritious food and, vitally, learn how to love their food.

“Writing and helping to implement the School Food Plan was a massive privilege and a character-building task. This recognition is a tribute to all of the people who work hard every day to provide health, pleasure and improved attainment to our children. Let’s all keep going.” – John Vincent.

Great school food improves academic attainment and starts to solve our chronic health crisis as a nation. The School Food Plan now brings together all schools and organisations helping those schools to continue on the journey to ensure our children’s future health and happiness.

A note from John: 

Henry and I are so grateful for all the lovely messages of support following today’s MBE announcement. We are really chuffed. This is a great opportunity to recognise that there are many people involved in really making change happen.

During the development of the School Food Plan, there was a third musketeer called Matthew Purves. Matthew is a civil servant who was at the Department for Education and has now moved on to Ofsted. Matthew was the ultimate professional, helping us navigate the workings of government, providing support and insight, and being with us during some very challenging times and in a number of big meetings. I would like to make sure that Matthew is recognised for his massive contribution, even though his instinct will be to not seek public praise. Thank you Matthew. And thank you to all of the civil servants who worked with Matthew and who have worked with us since.

During the implementation phase of the Plan, since July 2013, we have been joined by the equally dedicated and extremely able Myles Bremner who has become our new partner. Myles has worked on the implementation full time and has been supported at different times by Leah Schabas, Sarah Grant and Gemma Hopwood.

Henry and I were advised and supported by many who work in school food every day and many of these are assembled into a group with the grand title of the ‘Expert Panel’. These people are:

Ashley Adamson, Linda Cregan, Richard Dunne, Libby Grundy, Judy Hargadon, Christine Lewis, Brian Lightman, Carmel McConnell, Michael Nelson, Jeanette Orrey, Sarah Owen, Lesley Powell, Mandy Snaith, Sara Jayne Stanes, Stephanie Wood, Anne Bull and Carianne Bishop. There are a number of others who provided expert advice especially Lynda Mitchell, Pat Fellows and Susan Jebb.

I would like to thank and congratulate the political leaders who have had the vision and determination to improve the life chances of children through school food. They come in all flavours – they include Michael Gove for commissioning the Report aka Plan, and for being so into what we were doing always, Ed Balls for his original free school meals pilots and for his advice, Nick Clegg and David Laws for implementing free school meals for infants, Liz Truss for helping us get practical cooking and nutrition on the National Curriculum, Stephen Twigg for his support as Shadow Education Minister,  and Sharon Hodgson who is the Labour Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for School Food.

And then of course there is Jamie Oliver, who has been a cheerleader and advisor throughout, and his secret right hand called Louise Holland has supported us and Jamie always, with her ability to deliver tough messages with a smile.

Thank you too to everyone at Leon who supported us always to make this possible. Every day I am living my dream working with you.

When it came to writing the plan, we were helped massively by Jemima Lewis (Henry’s wife) who spent many weekends and nights helping us articulate what we wanted to communicate, playing too the role of super-editor, and always asking us ‘yes, but what is it you are trying to say?’

And may I sneak a quick thank you to my wife Katie who acted as an advisor and agony Aunt whenever we hit media-related speed bumps.

Great things are happening. The School Food Plan is working. Children, schools and families are benefitting enormously from the great work of chefs, head teachers and leaders in our 22,000 schools.  But there is still much to do, and we need to retain focus and determination. We are only at the beginning of what can be achieved.

Let’s keep going.

John