If you have children or grandchildren in a County Durham Primary School you will have spotted them getting very excited about vegetables over the past few weeks. Through the support of TaylorShaw, the company providing school meals to the majority of primaries in the county, lost of them have been taking part in the 2021 VegPower campaign #EatThemToDefeatThem. In this piece mum and school Cook, Pip Moreton from Consett tells about her enthusiasm for the campaign.
As a mum of 2 and a Primary School Catering Manager/ School Cook, I have spent most of my life, in one way or another, trying to find new ways of getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables. One of my passions in life is to teach the next generation all about 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 lives as adults is vitally important not only for them but for the future of our Planet. We must see more emphasis on ‘food based’ learning in our schools and indeed, more support for our amazing schools which are already ploughing ahead with in-school growing programmes. I have recently started a small charity called The School Seed Bank, a free support resource to help schools on their way with such projects and the uptake has been huge. The self-funded, food based learning activities going on in our schools are just brilliant and I would love to see all schools be given the funding and resources to grow at least some their own organic produce for use within their kitchens.
I have to admit, when the VegPower campaign first launched, I was a complete sceptic. ‘Veg is Evil’ … the words shook my core. Why are these people telling children veg is bad? Are they trying to undo all our work? And then I thought some more, and 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 and that’s what this 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 resources sent to us from VegPower, 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 vegetables in our schools.
School cooks and kitchen teams across the country have been doing some truly amazing displays from garnishes of carved vegetables, vegetable breads and bakes, hatch displays and even had taster events. At my own school, out in the school allotment and greenhouse we have been planting 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, much more. After all that, for me, the main reason I am now completely behind VegPower is because I have seen the results with my own eyes. I have seen children guzzling down vegetable smoothies, making Cauliflower and Chocolate Cake at home to share with friends at school. Children who previously wouldn’t even look at a carrot, are singing songs about them and even the veg haters are trying new things; creations made from vegetables at home are brought into school proudly on display. It has created discussions throughout our school and it’s all been about eating veg! Wow, children talking about eating veg…..asking me questions about veg…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 VegPower, we salute you, and look forward to sharpening our forks for the next vegetable Invasion that dares to come to Consett Junior School!!!
(Pip’s article first appeared as a blog post on the VegPower website at the end of June 2021)