Schoolchildren in Leeds are learning how to cook with items from Tesco’s surplus food scheme

A surplus food scheme is enabling Leeds schoolchildren to learn culinary and life skills.

Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Children at Reach Primary School in Beeston enjoying a breakfast provided by Tesco’s Community Food Connection Scheme.

Pupils at Reach Primary Learning Centre in Beeston are benefiting from Tesco’s Community Food Connection Scheme while also learning about health eating.

The school, which supports children with mild to moderate social, emotional, and mental health needs (SEMH), gets a weekly collection from Tesco Express on Burley Road. It helps provide pupils with a nutritional hot breakfast each day, as well as regular fruit and veg.

Children have also been learning how to make meals like shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognese, casseroles and salads.

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The food scheme has helped children learn culinary and life skills.

Headteacher Ali Elvidge said: “For our children it’s about teaching them lifelong skills. Things like cooking are important to them, knowing how to make a healthy meal, knowing a takeaway isn’t always the easiest option. It means we know they are getting that healthy start to the day so they can concentrate.”

The short term learning centre helps children who at risk of exclusion because of their SEMH needs to return to mainstream schooling.

Miss Elvidge added: “Some of our pupils come from deprived backgrounds with parents on low incomes. The products we receive from Tesco, which often include the likes of bread from the bakery as well as fresh fruit and veg, help supplement the meals we provide to the children.”

The surplus scheme, which is run in partnership with food charity FaireShare, also helped to support the school’s summer camp. The two-week healthy holidays initiative allowed children to enjoy activities with their friends while providing some respite for their parents.

Boys from Reach Primary School rustle up a treat after being supported by a surplus food scheme.

Miss Elvidge added: “As part of that, by using the Tesco/FareShare scheme, it meant we were also able to give the children a breakfast, which they cooked for themselves every day. They were able to make their lunch every day as well. They were also making food that they were taking home for their families.

“So it kind of helps to raise their self esteem and their confidence as well as knowing that they had been fed. It’s not just that these children need food. The whole message that I want to come out of this is that it is building their self esteem and self confidence.

“It’s developing lifelong skills and we can be sure they get healthy nutritious food and get to spend time with their friends in a safe environment.”

This autumn Reach is also planning to provide harvest hampers for families. These will contain products donated by staff and from the supermarket’s surplus scheme. And one family has already offered to donate their hamper to a family who are in greater need.

A pupil thanks Tesco for providing food through its partnership with FareShare.

No Food goes to waste at the school from the supermarket’s scheme. The school makes sure that any surplus items are parcelled up for children to take home with them.

Miss Elvidge added: “If we find ourselves with our own food surplus, we often package up food parcels for pupils to take home to their families, meaning that the food donations make a difference to much more than just those in the classroom.”

The headteacher said the scheme has helped them in numerous ways over the past year. She added: “It is ensuring the children learn to cook as well, and that they have got food that they can share with their whole family.”

For more information about the learning centre follow @ReachPrimary on Twitter or see


Reach Primary Learning Centre is just one of thousands supported by Tesco’s Community Food Connection Scheme each month.

The supermarket donates more than a million meals of surplus food each month to 7,000 charities and community groups supported by FareShare.

Claire da Silva, head of community at Tesco, said: “We know that the Community Food Connection scheme is making a real difference to groups like Reach Primary Learning Centre by providing a little bit of extra help in the shape of surplus food from our stores.

“This is the biggest supermarket food redistribution scheme in the UK, and we know there are more groups that could receive food for the work they carry out, so I would encourage any group that thinks it could benefit to contact FareShare, so we can help even more good causes.”

FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with 21 regional centres across the country.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive at FareShare, said: “We are incredibly thankful to Tesco for its continued support of FareShare. We work with a number of charities and community groups providing essential support to their local communities, and receiving a steady stream of food helps them to feed those who need it most.”