We are delighted that the Duchess of Cambridge has chosen to become the Royal Patron of the East Anglian’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), which includes the Milton Children’s Hospice where the Foodshare story began. In choosing her very first charity to support, the Duchess privately visited the Milton Hospice in November 2011 and announced today that she will take an active role with the charity. The Milton Hospice was originally opened by Princess Diana in 1989.
Milton is a small village on the edge of Cambridge, England which is the birthplace of Foodshare. Foodshare originally started when surplus produce was donated by a group from the local allotment to the Milton Hospice to help provide fresh produce to their kitchen and reduce spiralling food bills. Inspired by their efforts, Milton Primary School became the first Foodshare School, with pupils growing food specifically for the Hospice in Foodshare beds within their school grounds.
The children, aged four to ten, grew over £500 of fresh produce in their first year and the success of the project inspired the idea for the national Foodshare School Programme. The school and allotment continue to deliver freshly picked donations to the Hospice daily throughout the growing season, so far delivering over £4,000 worth of produce since 2009.
Watch ITV Feature on Foodshare and the Milton Children’s Hospice
The Hospice has a dedicated kitchen with full-time staff who cook meals for the children and their families every day. They rely solely on public donations in order to operate. With increasing food prices and tougher economic times, Foodshare not only wanted to support the Hospice by helping to reduce it’s food bills, but recognised that Foodshare Produce (locally-grown, mainly organic, freshly-picked) is the healthiest food the Hospice could ever have. Up until that point the Hospice relied solely on food sourced from supermarkets. The beauty of the Foodshare project is that produce is usually harvested, delivered, cooked and eaten on the same day, with Foodshare volunteers making daily deliveries for eight months of the year. The food is grown less than a mile away and often delivered on foot or bike, resulting in a zero carbon footprint.
A spokesperson from St. James’s Palace said:
“The Duchess of Cambridge is very much looking forward to being officially involved with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, meeting its staff and the young people with whom it works.
“The Duchess was very impressed when she visited EACH recently and how innovative and special the charity is. The Duchess considers it an honour to be associated with Each and its work.”
Graham Butland, EACH chief executive, said: “EACH is honoured and extremely proud to have The Duchess of Cambridge as Royal Patron. Having our work recognised in this way is not only a tribute to our staff and supporters, but a huge boost for the children, young people and families receiving our care and support. The Duchess’s support will help us increase the awareness and understanding of the full range of services we offer children and families, and really celebrates the great work being done by all children’s hospices across the UK.”
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The Foodshare Vision
Our vision is for every school to become a Foodshare School, growing and supporting their local-chosen charity as part of our national programme. We believe that by creating a new generation of what we call “Food Philanthropists”, children will learn three essential life skills:
(1) Learning how to Grow Food
(2) Caring for the Environment, helping to create a more Sustainable World and;
(3) Caring for and Supporting their Community.
The Foodshare Effect
We have seen phenomenal results of the Foodshare programme in schools. Here are examples of just five:
(1) Letting Children Experience the Joy in Giving and Sharing
Fooodshare teaches children about philanthropy and sharing, but more importantly letting them experience the wonderful feeling of nurturing something from seed and sharing the harvest with people who really benefit from the healthiest food they can ever eat.
(2) Supporting Those in Need and Learning About The Lives of Others
We have seen how Foodshare gives schools the chance to become integrated with local charities and learn about what they do. When children deliver their produce they often get to visit the charity. For example, children have been given life-changing experiences such as tours of the inside of Homeless Shelters. They also develop an interest in what the Charity does and the Foodshare project is often the catalyst for forging a life-long relationship between the school and the charity. We’ve also seen charities visit schools, giving assemblies and on one occasion, a group of children from a Hospice and their carers visiting a school with a huge THANK YOU card they made. They were then invited on a tour of the allotment, seeing where the food they were eating was grown.
(3) Giving Children Responsibility
The ‘Harvest Heroes’ project gives children a new found responsibility as they take care and nurture their own Foodshare plant, knowing their efforts are helping to nourish those in need in their community. It moves food growing from the “Classroom bean plant experiement” to a real and essential school learning activity.
(4) Changing Schools from Top to Bottom
We’ve also seen how the “Foodshare Effect” changes schools from top to bottom, from assembly themes, art displays, harvest festivals, fundraising, not to mention all the academic benefits, such as planning, maths (weighing, collating).
(5) Healthier Diets and Less Food Waste
We’ve found that when children grow their own food they are more willing to each vegetables and also less likely to waste food they are given to eat, having understood the time, effort and care it takes to grow their own.
Foodshare recently launched the “Foodshare 50”. We are looking for 50 philanthropic individuals or organisations to help fund the national rollout of Foodshare Schools programmes in UK, Canada and the US. To find out more, please visit:
If you are interested in volunteering for Foodshare, or are associated with a local school or allotment that would like become part of Foodshare programme, please visit:
The Foodshare Story (www.foodshare.org.uk):
Foodshare was launched in 2009 in the village of Milton. Cambridge by Mark Desvaux & Dan Spencer, who were wanted to share surplus produce they had grown. The whole allotment joined in and after collecting and donating over £1,000 of fresh produce to the Milton Children’s Hospice, the local Primary School were inspired to start growing food for the Hospice directly. The Foodshare School programme was born.
After an appearance on Radio 4 Gardener’s Question Time, Foodshare was launched nationally with over 250 charities signing up in the first two weeks to become “Foodshare Charities” and beneficiaries of locally grown produce. Foodshare began to spread and over 7,500 school children nationally began “Growing to Give”. As well as the ‘Growing to Give’ project, Foodshare also launched ‘Harvest Heroes’ where school children collect surpluses from their locality, and in 2011, the Grow Cook Share Day launched, hitting national BBC headlines. Foodshare were central to the setting up of a Government-support Taskforce on Food Growing in School which it is a member.
More on East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices:
East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. The charity provides care and support wherever the family wishes – in families’ own homes, in the community or at one of their hospices – with the challenges that having a life-threatening condition can often bring. The range of support includes short break care, specialist play activities, music therapy, hydrotherapy, parent groups and siblings groups, care at the end of life and bereavement support for all family members.
To find out more and support the Hospice, please visit:
To read more about the Duchess of Cambridge and her support for EACH, please go to: