Healthy picnic

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
We held a Healthier Lunchbox Challenge Day in July. I have a particular interest in diet and its impact on learning and behaviour, and food was a focus area for our validation for the Healthy Schools Standard.

A huge boost was a visit by Cooking Bus (www.food.gov.ukhealthiereatingbus), with workshops for pupils, teachers and parents.

Shortly before the day we spent an afternoon discussing the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and tasting fruits as part of the national "Fruity Friday" (www.wcrf-uk.orghelpfruityfridayindex.lasso).

Our challenge was for each pupil to put together a lunchbox without white sandwich-type bread, crisps or chocolate. Staff, school caterers (who advised on food hygiene), pupils and some parents joined in.

We also enlisted help from wholesale suppliers and local produce growers, and each class prepared salads, fruits and sandwiches.

One aim was to taste lots of different foods - many new to pupils - and prepare simple snacks like mini pizzas and wraps as well as considering what makes a healthy choice in foods and drinks.

The school kitchen provided more salads and small cakes. We picnicked on the school fields on rugs. One of our visitors, Andrew Turner, the Island MP, enjoyed it so much he delayed his return to Parliament that day.

The day gave children hands-on experience of preparing a healthy meal, allowed us to work in partnership with our school meals provider and gave parents an opportunity to join in a school-based activity.

Gill Price

Healthy schools coordinator, Mayfield Middle School, Ryde, Isle of Wight

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