Collaboration allows children to learn all about food

Children, parents and staff have praised the Health Improvement Commission’s Farm to Fork project which was run in collaboration with the Youth Commission’s 2023 summer Playscheme. 

Almost 200 contact points were made with participating children over a total of 15 sessions. These children had the opportunity to learn about, cook and taste nutritious food. Through these sessions, approximately 300 veg portions were tried, as well as a variety of protein sources and high-fibre carbohydrates. Every child was also provided with a free fruit and vegetable snack every day of Playscheme, adding a further 1216 portions to the total. 

Cat Tyrrell, Eat Well Project Support Officer at the Health Improvement Commission, commented: 

“When we speak to parents, often we hear that they are anxious to make changes to lunch boxes in case their child doesn’t like it or won’t eat it. What we found during Playscheme, was that the free fruit and veg snack provided every morning was heartily eaten up with little to no waste. The Youth Commission staff did a great job in making this snack more appealing to little ones, by chopping it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. All of our tasting and cooking sessions also used wholemeal or wholegrain varieties of bread, wraps and pittas, which were positively received by all children. This tells us that there are some simple swaps that can be made to lunch boxes which not only will add nutritional value to a child’s lunch but are also swaps which they will enjoy.” 

Emma Cusack, Playscheme co-ordinator for the Youth Commission, added: “This project has highlighted to us the value of helping children develop positive relationships with food through fun activities and in giving them opportunities to learn about new, tasty nutritious foods. Participants were much more likely to try the food on offer if they were involved and saw their peers trying it, which underlines the importance of children and young people settings adopting whole setting approaches to healthy eating.”  

Ally, parent of two Farm to Fork participants aged 6 and 10, said: “Projects like these are really important for young people to get in touch with nature and learn about where their food comes from, get messy and have fun. Children might not always realise the importance of healthy food options and it’s nice for them to be able to explore this in a friendly setting.”