‘Political and economic climate’ blamed for closure of Children’s Food Trust

CFT Children's Food Trust Linda Cregan
Linda Cregan: It has proved impossible to continue to deliver our services
LACA
16/08/2017 - 07:00
The Children’s Food Trust (CFT) will close later this year with the loss of up to 47 jobs. Charity Commission figures showed the CFT had an income of £5.6m in the year to 30 September 2016, but spent £5.8m in the same period.

The Trust, which is led by chief executive Linda Cregan and promotes healthy eating for children, announced in a statement on its website that it would close in September because of difficulties in maintaining existing levels of funding for its programmes.

In its statement, the CFT said: “With great sadness the Children’s Food Trust has announced it is to close. The Trust can reflect on a fantastic legacy having made a genuine and positive contribution to improve children’s health and well-being in the UK.”

Chief executive Cregan added: “Given the political and economic climate all charities are facing difficulties and we are no different.

“We remain passionate and dedicated to improving child health but it has proved impossible to continue to deliver our services and extremely reluctantly the Trustees have chosen to close the Trust. It is our priority at this point to speak to all our funders and partners to ensure a smooth transition and a positive legacy.

“We are all very proud of the contribution we have made to the real positive differences in child health in the UK.

“We’d like to thank our supporters and staff for their dedication over the past 10 years, without whom, the great strides forwards we’ve made in improving children’s diets simply would not have happened.”

“Because of the frameworks we have put in place in schools and early years settings, over 11 million children have access to better food. Families have benefited immeasurably from our Let’s Get Cooking programme, both from the skills our team have given people and from the recipes and resources made available to them.

“We have contributed hugely to ensuring the environment children grow up in is becoming healthier, by campaigning for measures on advertising unhealthy food, placement in supermarkets and most recently the tax on sugary drinks.

“Our collaboration with multiple stakeholders to carry out this great work has been incredible, so we ask them now to pick up the baton and not rest up on improving child health.”

Chair of Trustees at the Children’s Food Trust, Adam Starkey, added: “It is with a heavy heart that we have had to make the decision to close the Children’s Food Trust.

“We can be very proud of the work we have done but there is much more to do. We still face a crisis in child health, now more than ever, work in this area is vital.

“We urge everybody to ensure that action to improve children’s diet and the standard of the food they eat does not lose pace.

“Government, food producers and food retailers must make a commitment to researching what works, creating approaches and policies that have an impact, and campaigning to change behaviours that get children to eat well.

“Investment is needed so that organisations intent on improving child health can pick up the baton and continue our great work.”

Sally Shadrack, national chair of LACA, said: “The closure of the Children’s Food Trust is a significant loss to children, schools, parents and the school food industry. The staff at the Trust have been tireless advocates for children’s health and their voices will be sorely missed in the ongoing debate around food and public health.

“It now falls to others in the sector to ensure that the arguments for healthy food inside and out of schools continue to be heard by decision makers in Government and by the public, a task that LACA intends to meet head-on.

“On behalf of myself and colleagues at LACA, we would like to thank Linda Cregan for her diligent work leading the Children’s Food Trust over the last few years, her expertise and advocacy have been of huge benefit to everyone involved in the school food sector and have helped propel the industry to new heights.”

The CFT began life as the School Food Trust in 2005 following the highly critical school dinner campaign run by the TV chef Jamie Oliver on Channel 4 that year.

It was a non-departmental body with Government funding until 2011, when it became a charity.

It is understood that although the Trust would continue to deliver most of its programmes until closure, the flagship Let’s Get Cooking programme would close immediately.

In the meantime, the CFT is talking to other organisations about running its training and resources services in the long term, and plans to launch a phone app featuring recipes and other material it has produced.

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