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CanTeam, a project tackling food insecurity, announced as a winner of the first Big Education Challenge

  • CanTeam has been named today a winner of Big Change’s first ever Big Education Challenge, alongside Force of Nature and Paige Connect who will each receive funding from the Big Education Challenge to pilot their projects over the next two years (2024-25).
  • CanTeam transforms school canteens into vibrant community hubs, by equipping schools to offer nutritious and delicious food after school, co-designed and delivered with young people, their families and the local community.  We are creating a sustainable solution to food insecurity, encouraging healthy eating, and enabling young people to learn and thrive.
  • In 2023, the £1m prize fund provided seed funding and capacity-building support to 15 finalists tackling diverse challenges in education.
  • The prize fund, the first of its kind run by the education charity Big Change, set out to identify, support and reward bold ideas with the potential to transform education and learning.

For immediate release – 24 January 2024:  CanTeam, a game changing initiative transforms school canteens into community hubs that provide after-school food for young people and their families, has today been announced as one of three projects to win the first Big Education Challenge run by the education charity Big Change.

Future Foundations, the organisation behind CanTeam, has been awarded £225,000 to develop and pilot at scale the idea. The £1m prize fund is the first of its kind run by education charity Big Change and was set up to identify, support and reward bold ideas with the potential to transform education and learning in the UK.

Jonathan Harper, CEO of Future Foundations said:
“I am delighted that CanTeam is a winner of the Big Education Challenge. Too many young people and families are not able to access affordable and nutritious food, and with the support of Big Change we can pilot at scale.  As a father of three, I am witness to the daily struggles families face. We have launched CanTeam to equip schools to transform school canteens into vibrant community hubs, serving food after school, creating a sustainable solution to food insecurity, encouraging healthy eating and enabling young people to learn and thrive. Our approach can revolutionise the way our young people eat and create more sustainable and equitable communities.”

During 2023, Future Foundations received expert support and funding from Big Change to help develop and test CanTeam.  Future Foundations surveyed 1,322 young people, parents, carers, and educators from across the country to understand the potential demand.  They partnered with Play Verto, a first-of-its-kind gamified data collection platform connecting communities to decision-makers through play-based experiences to gather actionable insights which included:

  • 86% of parents/carers felt CanTeam could reduce the pressure to provide a meal around work and after-school clubs.
  • 87% of respondents said they’re curious and keen to have a CanTeam launch at a school near them.

The initiative has successfully piloted events at Sunnyhill Primary School and Townley Grammar School and gained enthusiastic support from a diverse coalition of cross-sector organisations who recognise the transformative potential of CanTeam.

In 2024, an extended pilot of weekly events launched at two Ark schools in London, and with the support of the Big Education Challenge, Future Foundations will launch extended pilots across the UK.

Research completed by The Food Foundation in 2023 has found that for many people, a healthy and sustainable diet is simply out of reach financially, even for people on slightly higher incomes and that it can be less appealing because it’s the more expensive option.

🍔 1 in 4 places to buy food are fast-food outlets

🥦 Healthy foods are over double the price per calorie than less healthy foods

🍩 56% of calories consumed by older children and adults are from ultra-processed foods

Jonathan Harper continued; “CanTeam will offer a new place for young people and their families, to access affordable and nutritious food. We have set ourselves a bold mission to establish more CanTeams than ‘McDonald’s’ across the UK by 2030 and are building a movement of cross-sector partners who share our mission to make this happen.”
Hannah Cohen, Head of Programmes, Bite Back, says: “By launching CanTeam across the country, Jonathan and his team will ensure that schools become community hubs, providing not just food but vital safe social spaces for young people who are often forced out onto high streets flooded with junk food.”
Thomasina Miers, Co-Founder of Wahaca, Winner of Masterchef 2005, food campaigner and Trustee for Chefs in Schools said: “Jonathan has a wealth of experience in getting community projects off the ground. His social canteen concept is a brilliant one that would have far-reaching and hugely beneficial outcomes for society not just in terms of public health, but also in the UK’s environmental targets since what we eat has such a large impact on the natural world. The CanTeam idea also has a huge potential to boost productivity since it would be training young people with real, transferable skills, particularly a group of young people who might otherwise slip through the social net.”

The Big Education Challenge has recognised three winners. Alongside CanTeam, Force of Nature and Paige Connect:

  • Force of Nature, led by Clover Hogan, aged 24, addresses students’ climate anxiety by providing training pathways to help young people prepare for their roles in a green economy, building their confidence, developing their skills, and helping them find the climate solutions they wish to lead.
  • Paige Connect, led by Sergio Gosalvez, aged 23, supports young blind and partially-sighted people to connect with learning and work independently or alongside others. By using technology to upgrade existing braille writers, Paige Connect enables better communication and collaboration with sighted teachers, family and friends.
Essie North, CEO, Big Change said:
“In launching the Big Education Challenge, we called for ideas that could help transform education and the winners are doing just that. They have turned their experience into insight and action – bravely testing and bringing their new ideas to life. These leaders are challenging assumptions about what education is and its purpose, about who gets to lead change, and the nature of the solutions needed.
Change in education is hard, and it takes brave and passionate people working together to make it happen. We are incredibly proud to support their journey, to show that change is possible, and I can’t wait to see the impact they will have on this and future generations.”
For more information and to keep up-to-date on the Big Education Challenge:    To find out more about CanTeam visit: www.CanTeam.Org.


Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries please contact:

Jonathan Harper FRSA

07880 722 000 

Additional information

About CanTeam 

  • Piloted at Sunnyhill Primary School, Lambeth, London. 
  • Piloted at Townley Grammar School, Bexleyheath, London in partnership with Made in Hackney.  Click here to read a student’s article on the event. 
  • The Play Verto supported survey had 1,314 responses across the UK showed that 88% welcome a CanTeam initiative in their school, with a weekly intervention the most popular option.
  • Currently piloting weekly events in two Ark schools in London: Burlington Danes and King Solomon Academy.
  • Supported by a coalition of cross-sector partners including: Aldridge Foundation, Ark, Bedford Academy, Bremner & Co, Chartwells, Eton College, Hubbub, Institute for Strategic Clarity, Made in Hackney, Makers of Sustainable Spaces, Mayor’s Fund for London, NCS Trust, Townley Grammar School, The Country Trust, The Felix Project and United Learning.

About Future Foundations 

  • Future Foundations’ mission is to equip young people to thrive. 
  • Founded in 2004, we have partnered with mission driven organisations to deliver educational programmes reaching over 100,000 young people (aged 7 to 18) in 100 countries. 
  • We design and deliver award-winning programmes that develop young people to be leaders in their lives and society.  
  • Recognised by the Department for Education for developing young people’s character with an award. 
  • UK delivery partner for the Persil Dirt Is Good Schools Programme.
  • UK delivery partner for Amazon Web Services GetIT. 
  • In 2013, we launched Global Social Leaders which has reached over 20,000 young people in 105 countries partnering with Wellington College and funders including the LEGO Foundation and Innovate UK.

About the Big Education Challenge

  • Launched in November 2022, the Big Education Challenge is a £1m prize fund set up by UK-based charity Big Change to find, support and reward bold ideas with the potential to transform education and learning in the UK.
  • After a decade of experience as a funder, Big Change established the Big Education Challenge to catalyse and accelerate change from the bottom up, helping reach more diverse people and bold ideas. 
  • Out of over 280 applications, 15 finalists (13 of whom were aged 18-25) were selected to receive six months of expert support and funding from Big Change and The Young Foundation to develop and test their ideas. The winners and runners up were selected from this group.
  • Big Change and partners are committed to learning from what works in the design and delivery of the first Big Education Challenge, and adapting its approach based on those lessons.
  • Funding for the £1m Big Education Challenge prize fund has been raised through a group of generous donors and philanthropists committed to transforming education.
  • Alongside the three winners, The Big Education Challenge has also awarded a total of £170,000 in funding to three runners-up. These projects are helping young people deal with loss and trauma by developing social emotional skills, offering digital internships for young people who might otherwise struggle to access creative careers, and providing entrepreneurship skills and mentorship for young people at risk of joining gangs.

Find out more:

  • Read about the Challenge here
  • Read about CanTeam, our BIG idea for change here

Get in touch, if you think you can help…

We are looking for schools and partners who share our vision and can help us scale CanTeam.