School food and Santa: a great end to 2023 for Herts YPAG ⛄

By Louca-Mai Brady,

This post is about the last two YPAG meetings of 2023. The first was an online meeting we had in November and the second was an in-person meeting and Christmas party in December 🥳

November online meeting

We started our online meeting off by playing an icebreaker where we all had to find one food item we thought was more sustainable and one we thought might be unsustainable, as we have been doing some work on this in our recent meetings. Some people showed items that had even been grown in their garden or in their local area! 🥕

ESRC Festival of Social Science workshop on school food 

Rebecca then spoke to us about plans for a Festival of Social Sciences workshop which we helped with. In the workshop, which some of us are helping to plan, we will talk about what we know from research on young people’s experiences of school food and how to make sure they are accessible to all children and young people. We had previously suggested focusing on school meals and doing creative things, so it was great to see these ideas in the plans 🎨. The YPAG members who helped on the day went off in a breakout room to plan icebreakers and other activities to make it fun. One of our ideas was making plasticine models of people’s best and worst school meals, which was lots of fun:


SALIENT project

The rest of us spoke with Claire about the SALIENT project. In our last meeting with Claire, we looked at a sustainability ‘plugin’ for online food shopping. Claire updated us on this and told us that our feedback and ideas were informing the project.

This time we talked about SALIENT research on community shops, which provide people with more affordable food. We talked about how a lot of the products donated to the shop tended to be unhealthier, unsustainable options because they last longer. This food is often ultra-processed and cheaper and, because they are easier to eat or prepare than the fresher options such as fresh fruit and vegetables, they get chosen more by the people using these community shops. We thought about ways that might make buying the healthier options easier or more appealing and thought about different meals that were simple to prepare and cook but it was quite difficult to think of options that were yummy, easy to prepare and didn’t require a fridge or freezer. One of us suggested vegetable fajitas which I thought was a great idea!

Recruitment posters

Millie then showed us three posters that she had created based on our ideas from the last meeting and asked us to talk about what elements we liked/disliked from them. We agreed that it was important to include pictures in the flyers because it showed what we do in our meetings and who we are as a group. Since then we have agreed on the final flyer which we hope will encourage new members to join us! You can find the flyer and more info here!

Our December meeting and Christmas party!

We started off the meeting with a festive icebreaker game of ‘would you rather…?’ where we were asked questions such as ‘would you rather have lots of little presents or one big one’ and ‘would you rather spend the holidays in Lapland or Hawaii?’ 🎁. These questions caused lots of debate and everyone was very good at backing up their answers.

Making a film

Then Sybil and Russ from Flexible Films came to talk to us about a film we’re going to be making together. They showed us some of the equipment that they work with which was so cool and helped us understand how some parts of the films are made. They then showed us different examples of the types of film we could choose to make. We then voted for our favourites – you’ll have to wait until later in the year to find out what we chose but we are all very excited to get started! 🎬

SALIENT project 

Unfortunately, our lunch didn’t turn up so we were quite hungry when Claire from the SALIENT project came to talk to us about canteen food choices. But luckily some lunch came soon after!

We spoke about what influences our food choices at school and a lot of us agreed that the canteen environment was often a problem, as the lunch queues were really big and the popular options ran out or we were left with no time to eat the food we had queued up for! We also spoke about the canteen staff and their role in our lunchtime experiences at school, who, for people with allergies weren’t always helpful!

Christmas party


After we finally got some lunch, we had our Christmas party. We played games including pin the nose on the reindeer, blindfolded Santa drawing and a Christmas tree building game🎅. Things got quite competitive but we all had fun and the games put us in a festive mood!🎄