School Food Systems

Recent findings from the National Childhood Measurement Programme (NCMP) report increased childhood obesity levels. Identifying solutions to decrease childhood obesity and improve children’s dietary behaviour remains a priority.

The potential role of school food to improve children’s diets is documented in the Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action (Chapter 2) and National Food Strategy, however, modifying the school food system is complex, with challenges at macro- (policy, procurement), meso (cultural norms) and micro-levels (food/drink choices). Furthermore, complexities exist in evaluation methods and identifying evidenced-based solutions.

There is a growing network of stakeholders (academic and non-academic) engaged in school food systems developed from a MRC UKPRP funded network (Generating Excellent Nutrition in UK Schools (GENIUS)). Current network members include active UK researchers in school food. This SIG will develop prior GENIUS networks and has a multi-disciplinary focus.  

Aims and Objectives:

  • Provide a platform for stakeholders from academia, third sector, and practice and policy to share expertise, discuss challenges and gaps, and develop the evidence-base of potential opportunities to improve the school food system.
  • To engage Nutrition Society members in this topical and central component of the food environment that is an important driver of children’s dietary behaviour using a systems approach.

  • To facilitate (through the use of online and in-person sessions) further collaborations that already exist between academics, and practice and policy partners through the establishment of the GENIUS network.

  • To provide a platform to disseminate knowledge, identify novel methods and influence practice through evidenced-based school food research.

  • To understand the range of work in school food systems across the four UK nations and internationally.

  • To develop areas for collaborative research grant applications on topics relevant to the school food system.


Dr Suzanne Spence, University Research Fellow, Newcastle University

Area of Interest: School-based policy and interventions to improve children & young people’s diets, inequalities, evaluation