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Sustainable and healthy school food environments in Brazil

Changing what Brazil eats has a large impact on the environment, population health, and on the economy. Brazil is the third-largest agricultural producer worldwide. Yet agriculture and land use account for about 55% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions. Simultaneously, 16% of children aged 5-10 years are overweight and another 14% are obese, leading to obesity healthcare costs rising to $330 billion over the next 40 years.

The Brazilian National School Food Program (PNAE) is the oldest National Food Policy and benefits 40 million students; it was created in a time when hunger and undernutrition was the main problem. However, with the Nutritional Transition and the Global Syndemic of Undernutrition, Obesity and Climate Change, the role of the programme should be discussed to face these challenges.

We will run workshops for ERC from the UK and Brazil and enable pilot projects to improve food environments and behaviour at school, shaping the current dietary choices towards a sustainable healthy diet. Applicants and mentors will share initiatives where interdisciplinary approaches aid improving schools' meals, discussing challenges and impact.

Sustainable and Healthy Food Environment for Children: the potential of school meals

The UK-Brazil workshop “Sustainable and Healthy Food Environment for Children: the potential of school meals" will consist of sessions of ~2.5h during six non-consecutive days from June 7th - 18th.

The goals of the workshop are:

  1. Stimulating co-creation of innovative research ideas and encouraging sustainable collaborations between early career researchers and professionals by enabling and inspiring research through networking activities, brainstorming and mentoring sessions, and by supporting economically (prize challenge) the development of the best projects;

  2. Promoting knowledge exchange and capacity building;

  3. Developing an interdisciplinary network of early career researchers and professionals working in the field in the UK and Brazil to carry out, implement and evaluate effective and innovative research-led interventions; and

  4. Generating evidence to inform policy.

The workshop will have a “Prize Challenge”, which consists of up to £35000 fund to enable the development of 5 projects (or more depending on costs) created during the workshop between UK and Brazil participants. Each project may request up to £7000. More guidelines will be given on due time.

We are excited to hear from you and get to meet you in June. Special interest will be given to early-career researchers, participants coming back from career breaks or maternity leave, participants from minority groups, participants working with or from schools and NGOs, and participants who are keen on collaborating and interested in implementing or improving new or current interventions in food environments for Children.

For more details of the project, check the event here.

To apply, please click here

DEADLINE MOnday, May 17th, 2021.

If you have questions, please contact us at or

Workshop agenda
Workshop draft agenda

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Ximena Schmidt
Dr Ximena Schmidt - Ximena joined Brunel University London in 2019 as Global Challenges Research Fellow working at the Institute of Energy Futures. Since then she has been  develop international research collaborations in the fields of sustainable food systems. Ximena is a life cycle sustainability expert and currently developing data science and system modelling skills. Her broader research interests relate to sustainable food supply chains and technologies, circular economy and waste valorization, and sustainable food consumption, including diets and cooking. In 2021, Ximena moved to the Chemical Engineering department where is currently integrating her research on sustainability and life cycle thinking in the undergraduate and post-gradute curricula while continuing her research. She is module leader of Process Design (CL3602), Design project (CL3605) and Sustainability and Environmental Engineering (CL5656). Outreach is key in Ximena's activities. Behavioral change and awareness are critical for taking Ximena's research out of the academia and generate real impact. Hence, she has been involved in several research led - outreach activities and initaitves; currently, the main projects are TakeaBiteCC- Take a Bite out of Climate Chage and  GGDOT - Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open Toolkit, transdisciplinary collaborations that aim to develop tools and engagement materials (e.g. games) to raise awareness  about the relationship (impacts) between our food choices and climate change. TakeaBiteCC AT HOME, is the latest project, a response to COVID-19.  

Related Research Group(s)

woman in slums

Equitable Development and Resilience - Centred on development and social justice issues, our group continually reflects upon how individual and collective agency can contribute to meaningful change around climate action and sustainability across Global North and South nations.

food preservation

Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains - Energy demand and GHG emissions reduction in all stages of the food chain; optimal ways the food chain can utilise different energy sources and interact with the energy supply system; resource efficiency through intensification of food processing.

pregnant exercise (1)

Health Behaviour Change - Development and evaluation of theory- and evidence-based health behaviour change interventions, across communicable and non-communicable diseases; evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 14/11/2023