As a mum of two and a Primary School Catering Manager/School Cook, I have spent most of my life trying to find new ways to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables. One of my passions in life is to teach the next generation where our food comes from, specifically, how to grow their own. Giving our children the knowledge and skills they need to lead more self sufficient/sustainable lives as adults is vitally important for them and the future of our planet. We must place more emphasis on ‘food-based’ learning in our schools and provide more support for the amazing schools who are already ploughing ahead with in-school growing programmes. I recently started a small charity called ‘The School Seed Bank’, a free support resource to help schools and the uptake has been huge. The self-funded, food-based learning activities in our schools are just brilliant and I would love to see all schools being given the funding and resources to grow as much of their own organic produce for use within their kitchens.
When the Veg Power campaign first launched, I have to admit, I was a complete sceptic. ‘Veg is evil’ ... the words shook me to my core. Why are these people telling children veg is bad? Are they trying to undo all our work I thought? But it dawned on me that telling children vegetables are healthy and that they should ‘eat them’ hasn’t worked. In fact, the more you tell them to ‘eat them’ the more they won’t! But children love a game. Eat Them To Defeat Them is a very clever, well-thought-out game that involves eating vegetables to defeat them and it really does get children eating more vegetables.
Using the brilliant Veg Power resources, from posters to pop-ups, activity sheets to lesson plans, colouring cards and mission packs, this campaign has given us the tools we need to really put the spotlight on eating veg in our schools. School cooks and kitchen teams across the country have produced amazing displays from garnishes of carved vegetables, vegetable breads and bakes, hatch displays and taster events. At my own school, in the allotment and greenhouse we have planted our own ‘Vegetable Army’ to eat and defeat. We held our very own Veg Olympics with ‘Broccoli Toss’ and ‘Pea-ing in The Pot’ and much more.
But in the end, for me, the main reason I am now completely behind Eat Them To Defeat Them is because I have seen the results with my own eyes. Children who previously wouldn’t even look at a googly-eyed carrot singing songs about them - and even the veg haters - are trying new things, creations made from vegetables at home brought into school proudly on display by the hundreds.
It has also created a discussion about ‘eating veg’ throughout our school. Children talking about eating veg, asking me questions about veg... it's incredible! Finally, and most importantly, I have measured a substantial increase in vegetable uptake at lunchtimes during the campaign and, that for me, is what it has always been about.
Bravo Veg Power, we salute you, and look forward to sharpening our forks for the next vegetable invasion that dares to come to Consett Junior School!!! #EatThemToDefeatThem