EVERY PRIMARY school in the UK will be given the chance to learn more about food and where it comes from as part of a major new food education programme launched today.
Farm to Fork, the first initiative from The Tesco Eat Happy Project, is backed by supporters including Diabetes UK, the Children’s Food Trust and the NFU. From the end of February kids will be able to go on educational Farm to Fork trails in factories, on farms and in supermarkets, for practical demonstrations of where food comes from and how it is made.
The ambition is to take one million of the five million primary school children in the UK on the Farm To Fork trails in the project’s first year.
Through technology, classes will also have the opportunity to talk to food suppliers across the world, for example banana growers in Costa Rica, through Google+ hangouts and live video chats, using Google’s Connected Classrooms.
Tesco is also partnering with Sorted Food, Europe’s largest social media cooking channel to engage children with content that makes cooking fun and accessible.
The Tesco Eat Happy Project is a commitment to improving children’s relationship with food and it forms part of the company’s wider ambition to help and encourage all of its customers and colleagues to lead healthier and more active lives. With eating habits starting in early childhood, Tesco aims to help primary school children learn and have a healthier relationship with food.
The project launches as new research from the Future Foundation reveals that even though 90 per cent of kids say they know which foods are healthy, fewer than ten per cent achieve their five-a-day target. More than half (52 per cent) believe potatoes count towards the total, and one in ten (10%) also count carrot cake.
The Future Foundation report highlights British parents’ concerns about their kids’ relationship with food: two-thirds believe children eat much more convenience food than they did and an astounding eighty per cent say their kids are less healthy than they used to be as kids. Half of parents fear the impact of their children’s diet on long-term health.
In light of these findings, Tesco is pledging £15 million to the Eat Happy Project in the first year alone. Farm to Fork is the first initiative of the Eat Happy Project. Developed in close working with teachers and in line with the curriculum, Farm to Fork will involve:
- Specially trained colleagues in more than 700 Tesco stores across the UK teaching kids about different foods and giving practical demonstrations, for example baking bread, tasting new fruits and vegetables and learning all about fish.
- Food suppliers across the country opening their farms and factories to teach kids how, for example, milk is produced, where eggs come from and how lettuce grows.
- Tesco partnering with Sorted Food, Europe’s largest social media cooking channel. The Sorted team will help to engage people with content that makes cooking social, fun and accessible.
- An innovative new partnership with Google’s Connected Classrooms, through which Tesco will become the first company in the UK to offer educational "virtual field trips” for primary schools to talk to producers and Tesco colleagues around the world.
- A dedicated website with lesson plans, recipes and “how to” videos for children, parents and teachers.
The Farm-To-Fork trails and Connected Classrooms will be open to every primary school in the UK.
Tesco UK Managing Director, Chris Bush, said: “We know parents are concerned that kids don’t always understand how food is made and where it comes from, which is important to developing a strong positive lifelong relationship with food. Working closely with teachers, our suppliers and a number of partners including the Children’s Food Trust, we want to help make the relationship primary school kids have with food better, and that’s the aim of the Eat Happy Project. It’s part of our ambition to help all of our customers and colleagues lead healthier lives and just one of the ways we are using our scale to help communities across the UK.”
The second phase of The Tesco Eat Happy Project, to launch later in the year, will involve cookery courses for kids in stores, working with the Children’s Food Trust.
Peter Kendall, President of the NFU commented: “The NFU welcomes this initiative which encourages children to learn more about where their food comes from and the important role British farming has in producing traceable and sustainable food. Children of today will become the food-buyers of the future and we hope this scheme helps to increase loyalty and support for British farmers and the high quality food we produce.”
Linda Cregan, Chief Executive of the Children’s Food Trust praised the initiative: “Everyone at the Children’s Food trust is looking forward to working with Tesco on this exciting new project. Improving the diets of our children should be a priority for all of us. Parents, schools and food retailers and manufacturers all have a responsibility to make sure our children are eating healthy, nutritious food. If our children grow up with an understanding and interest in both cooking and eating healthy food they have the best opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Being overweight or obese from an early age puts our children at a massive disadvantage from the word go and we can all support parents in safeguarding their children’s health.
“As the country’s biggest supermarket chain it is fantastic Tesco are taking the initiative to make this change. Encouraging the nation to improve its diet is a huge challenge and we need companies like Tesco to get involved if we are going to make a change. With their influence, resources and reach we’re sure they can make a big difference to our children’s diet.”