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Best Practise: Promoting Healthy Eating At Your School Or Club

Best Practise Magicbooking Blog: Healthy Eating

Best Practise: Promoting Healthy Eating At Your School Or Club

For the last couple of weeks, this blog has been dedicated to issues surrounding school meals. We have discussed the financial side of school catering at length and highlighted how both parents and organisations can save money, time and effort during the process. Today we are continuing with the topic of school meals and turning our attention to healthy eating and the increasingly worrying issue of obesity in Primary schools.

I’m sure for many of you, conversations about healthy eating will bring back distant memories of Jamie Oliver crying in a children’s playground on national television. But fast forward ten years and government data suggests that this continues to be a worsening problem. According to Public Health England, “more than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they begin school, and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school”. This shocking statistic reveals that the number of obese children almost doubles over the course of primary education. There are many reasons for this ongoing crisis, but there are actions which your school or club can implement to promote healthy eating. We have listed a couple of these below, so give them a read and let us know what you think!

 

 

1. Setting Up A Breakfast Club

As I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But even though this phrase can seem overused, there is a staggering amount of school children who still don’t eat breakfast. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, a quarter of UK Secondary School Children skip the meal. Setting up a breakfast club can help to tackle this worrying trend by providing a healthy and nutritional breakfast. The Department for Education have confirmed the importance of breakfast clubs by explaining that they “reduce hunger and enable pupils to eat more healthily”. Reinforcing the importance of a nutritional breakfast is a hugely valuable action your school or club can implement to promote healthy eating. But breakfast clubs can also help to tackle the underlying social issues around diet. Karin Woodley, head of the ContinYou education charity, described that breakfast clubs can act as a lifeline to parents unable to provide breakfast for their children because of financial constraints. In setting up a breakfast club, you’ll be setting up a unique opportunity to teach the children in your care about the importance of healthy eating. You will also be ensuring that none of your children go hungry, regardless of circumstance.

 

2. Start Growing Vegetables

Having an allotment or vegetable garden is great way of teaching children of how food grows and where it originally comes which promotes concepts of healthy eating. Examples of schools and clubs growing their own vegetables has been on the rise in recent years. For example, in Charlton Manor (a school in south east London), “pupils grow figs, oranges, tomatoes, kiwis and grapes. They also have allotment space at nearby Woodlands Farm where they grow what headteacher Tim Baker refers to as ‘abundant food’ such as potatoes and rhubarb for the school canteen”. Charlton Manor grow vegetables as a great way to promote healthy eating, but also as an opportunity to stock the canteen with fresh produce! A vegetable garden can also aid a child’s education when it comes to teaching topics such as nutrition, life cycles and the food chain. So, with so many benefits, why not introduce an allotment or vegetable garden to your school or club? Click here for a description of suitable vegetables to grow, a crop family list and an example 4-year crop rotation.

 

3. Develop A School Food Policy

A school food policy is a fantastic demonstration of your commitment to delivering healthy eating options for the children in your care. Like many things in this list, school food policies have been on the rise in the last few years. Googling the phrase ‘school food policy’ will return many recent results and show how many schools have recently adopted food policies. These results demonstrate the steps which schools are taking in order to get children and parents involved in the food choices available and promote healthy eating. A good school food policy will begin with an introduction to explain why they are committing to healthy eating. It should then continue by describing the aims of the policy and how they are going to be achieved by the policy. You should also make sure that you get full engagement from the school’s pupils and parents when writing a food policy. Ask for the opinions and input of the parents and pupils when writing a food policy as it is much more likely to succeed when it has the full support of the school’s community. Croydon.gov.uk has very usefully produced a policy template, click here to access this template.

 

4. School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

Research shows that the average child in England only eats 3 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If your children are struggling to get their 5 portions, then your school or club can help. Introducing more fruit and vegetables at mealtimes is a great way of promoting healthy eating in primary schools. But if you’re finding that this still isn’t enough, the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is out there. The scheme itself aims to provide a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. Children are eligible for the scheme if they are “aged 4 to 6 and attends a fully state-funded infant, primary or special school in England”. There is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables across the year, depending on season and availability, and it’s a great way to encourage healthy eating. For further information about the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme click here.

 

5. The Daily Mile

Our final suggestion isn’t about healthy eating at all, but an activity which can help your kids get moving! The daily mile was set up back in 2012 with the intention of improving the “physical, social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of our children – regardless of age, ability or personal circumstances”. The premise is simple enough and to join in with the daily mile is even easier! Children jog for 15 minutes and try and run a mile in that time. There’s no set up or staff training required, and children can run in their uniform. This convenience may explain its sharp rise in popularity, and it is reported that 2,309,784 children from 78 different countries are now joining in with the daily mile. The health benefits of the daily mile are huge and “researchers found that the children who were doing the Daily Mile were significantly healthier than those who did not”. The daily mile will improve the health of the children that attend your school or club and, if implemented with healthy eating initiatives, will help to tackle childhood obesity.

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