Food provision, cUlture and Environment in secondary schooLs (FUEL) study – University of Birmingham

The FUEL Project started in 2019; however, due to Covid-19, there were some delays due to the nature of the project resulting in it being extended. The project is to evaluate the national School Food Standards and related national policy in secondary schools in the West Midlands area, funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The focus was on secondary schools, and we asked pupils in years seven, nine and ten for their involvement, as well as parents, key school staff and governors. 

Here is a video that summaries the critical aspects of the FUEL Project: 

The project’s overall aim was to review and compare secondary schools legally required to meet the School Food Standards with those not legally required to meet the standard in the West Midlands. The concept was to see what food options were provided to students and whether healthy promotion material was being prompted. To access this information, the dietary intake and dental health of pupils compare across the two groups of schools. In addition, we focused on reviewing the variations in how the School Food Standards were being implemented in supporting the development of the food policy and support healthy eating for children.

For the project recruitment, 44 secondary schools were required, with half required to adhere to the Standards and the other half that did not need to comply with this standard. The project had several key segments to ensure a complete insight into the provisions and food consumption by pupils.

The data collection included:

  • Schools participating in the FUEL study were asked to provide details to the researcher, focusing on the school food availability. As well as staff and governors completing questionnaires. The questionnaire requested information on their general health and well-being and dental health, what they have eaten in the past 24 hours, as well as their ethnicity, age, sex and home postcode
  • Focus groups and online questionnaires were completed by students to provide an insight into their food intake and their dietary knowledge.
  • Observation of school food availability.
  • Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire about their views on the school food provision at their child’s school and request information on their sex and age group.
  • School governors and key staff members, including those in management, teaching and catering roles, will be asked to complete a questionnaire exploring their views on school food provision, the eating environment, the food curriculum and implementation of the national School Food Standards and the related School Food Plan in their school.

My role consisted of supporting the food observations. As well as completing the transcripts from the focus groups and meetings. Part of my role was supporting the pupils in completing their online questionnaires within their classrooms.

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