People working across the school food industry gathered at Haberdashers’ Hall in London yesterday (28th November) for the EDUcatering Forum, which focused on how to encourage children to make healthier choices.
Setting up the day’s discussion on ‘The Power of Positive Psychology: Reshaping Children’s Bad Food Habits’ was Dr Jeremy Leach, who explained the concept of ‘nudge’ in changing people’s behaviour. He used examples of road safety and council tax to highlight how simple tweaks and tricks can alter behaviour and make us conform.
This led into real case studies where nudge is proving to be effective in school catering, with Meg Longworth from Chartwells revealing brand new findings from their ‘Nudge Nudge’ pilot that highlight how simple changes such as placing a healthier meal first on the servery counter can increase uptake of those dishes. Amanda Ursell and Rory Larkin from CH&CO also provided evidence of their trials into using nudge to increase uptake of porridge at breakfast in schools.
Jo Ralling from The Food Foundation told us how ITV is helping them to make vegetables appealing. An advert for Veg Power will air from January next year during primetime TV shows and Ralling urged school caterers to help spread the word offline too.
Amy Odene from the School Plates campaign at ProVeg International spoke to the audience about making five small changes to include more plant-based dishes on the school menu and again, use small nudges to allow people of any diet to choose them.
Back for another year was the EDUcatering Cookery School, this time hosted by Park Community School, which won the EDUcatering Excellence Award for Secondary School Caterer of the Year. Head teacher Christopher Anders and head chef Steven Cross talked about food culture at their school and cooked up a delicious salmon teriyaki, which is on the school menu.
The afternoon saw Kate Morris and Sally Brown from The Purple Kitchen and co-founders of the Flavour School take to the stage to explain how simply getting children as young as two to use their senses to try new foods can expand their vocabulary and embed healthy food habits.
Keith Breasley, chair of ASSIST FM and Alan Cunningham from Totalize Media, presented the Inch by Inch Campaign for Scotland, an anti-obesity programme run by the school catering association with no funding from the Scottish government, which shows how school caterers can make a significant contribution to the issue, particularly in low-income areas.
Finally Stephen Forster, vice chair of LACA, gave LACA’s standpoint on childhood obesity and what it is doing to campaign for better food provision for children in schools.
Full details of the EDUcatering Forum will be provided in the next issue of EDUcatering Magazine.