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John Vincent

Changing the ‘school dinners culture’

John Vincent co-founded Leon Restaurants with Henry to bring food that tastes good and does you good to as many people as possible. Prior to that, he worked as a strategy consultant at Bain and Company and at Procter and Gamble. At Leon, John is responsible for food, brand and operations. John is co-author of the School Food Plan and is committed to providing ‘good food for the planet’.

Providing nutritious meals for schoolchildren has long been controversy within the UK. Initially driven by Jamie Oliver, actions had been taken and guidelines written, including a “nutrient guide” developed by Jamie Oliver. However despite a thorough review and proposals for change, the culture surrounding the provision of school dinners had not changed. John Vincent was tasked with the role of changing this culture, pushing new rules or a new approach to implement a universal school policy. John Vincent explained that their approach to change to culture was action-focused and not based on “recommendations”, rather on actually achieving set goals. It was based on authentic data, rather than “regulation”. They wanted positive reinforcement and not to focus on the bad things, but rather the positive value of nutrition. He built consensus, had data to back up intuition and process, and developed new rules and made sure that the approach was simple and understandable, i.e. such as being food-based and not nutrient-based.