Young people do give a fig about healthy eating
July 10 2012 - Last night our Nutrition and Health advisor Jill Pitt joined an expert panel to hear what young people really think about healthy eating.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs hosted a Question Time style panel chaired by current Headteacher Lord Mike Story inviting young people to share their views and concerns on healthy eating and school food. Alongside Jill on the panel were Roberta Blackman-Woods - Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, Rob Rees - Chair of the School Food Trust and Stephanie Wood - Director of School Food Matters.
After introductions from each member of the panel, the young people in the audience were given the opportunity to raise their burning issues with the panel, with Jill telling us "you could feel the buzz in the room as everyone got engaged and excited about the issue."
Top of the agenda was the lack of consistency in the quality of school meals served and why this important issue was so reliant on the decisions of head teachers and senior management:
“My school has a tuck shop filled with junk food, surely this isn’t right”
Many of the young people present said they had set up School Councils and School Nutrition Action Groups to challenge the food culture in their schools in a bid to raise standards.
The panel were unanimous in protecting universal mandatory nutritional standards for all schools and touched upon the announcement to review school food made last week by Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Panel members informed the audience that the review team, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, is inviting responses from the public and urged everyone to make their voices heard.
Nobody disagreed that all school children deserve to eat healthy nutritious meals in a dining room environment that is clean and welcoming. Cooking should be included on the curriculum:
“We eat pizza all the time, just put in the oven, we don’t know how to cook but we would love to know how”
We hope that through the endorsement of school lunchtimes as a positive learning experience, the Food for Life Partnership approach in schools can go some way to shift food culture and increase children’s take-up of school meals.
What was very clear is that not only do young people care passionately about eating well; they want their voice to be heard by those who have responsibility for ensuring this happens.