Our community appeals helped us leverage funding for food tech

Showing that you have the backing of your school community in securing match funding or donations will stand you in good stead with grant givers, says Sharon Noble

As part of a government-funded development at our south London secondary academy, we were promised a brand new food tech room. It would look amazing, but the only ‘equipment’ provided was sinks and fridges! We therefore urgently needed to find additional funding for equipment.

The challenge was that food tech could be deemed as statutory provision and so was a low priority for funders. Moreover, our enthusiastic technology team wanted everything – from wooden spoons to sous-vide vacuum sealers. They were also keen to hit the ground running for the start of the academic year.

We are always careful in how we go about community fundraising as our school has a mixed demographic and we don’t want to alienate families who cannot donate money. Instead, we found a supermarket voucher scheme that could be used to get cooking equipment. We created a school community challenge – asking each form in the school to collect as many vouchers as possible over three months, with a prize for the form that collected the most.

This created a buzz and interest in the new food tech facilities – and we collected a total of more than 25,000 vouchers. This meant we were able to get all the smaller items we needed (including cutlery, bowls, aprons, scales and kitchen knives) with a total value of more than £4,000. We also put out a plea to the school community for microwaves in good working order – and received three donations that were PAT tested, cleaned and good for use.

As we were looking for equipment rather than help with a specific project, we had to discount a lot of trusts. The technology team worked out what they wanted to deliver at a curriculum level, as well as the extracurricular potential for the facility. We then created a case for support. I researched trusts that would potentially fund equipment and activities relating to cooking and nutrition. I applied to around 15 small trusts and also contacted one larger one that was interested in developing skills for the catering industry.

We were able to cite the fact that we had match funding worth £5,000 from both the voucher scheme and the microwave donations. In our case for support, we also mapped out the range of activity the food tech room would be used for, providing statistics on numbers and beneficiaries including lessons for SEN students, a BBC Children in Need-funded club and a parent/child co-cooking after-school club.

As a result, we secured a further £7,500 from the large trust (which wanted to remain anonymous), and £2,500 from small trusts, providing us with an additional £10,000 to buy the equipment needed to fully kit out the food tech facility. We even got some equipment that would be found in commercial restaurant kitchens, providing the best possible vocational training for our young people.

  • Sharon Noble is development manager at Chestnut Grove Academy in London

Further reading

Join FundEd to access our database featuring over £14m of grants for schools