UK: Tesco targets schools in healthy eating campaign

By Hannah Abdulla | 27 January 2014

Tesco plans to visit schools in a bid to get children to eat more healthily

Tesco plans to visit schools in a bid to get children to eat more healthily

Tesco has launched a farm-to-fork education programme to provide children with an awareness of where food comes from and encourage them to eat more healthily.

The campaign, which is part of the Tesco Eat Happy project, is backed by Diabetes UK, Children's Food Trust and the NFU. From the end of February, children will be able to go on educational trails in factories, farms and supermarkets for practical demonstrations on food production. Tesco hopes that in its first year the project will take 1m of the country's 5m primary-aged children on educational visits. 

Classes will have the opportunity to talk to food suppliers across the world via Google+ hangouts and Google's Connected Classrooms. Food suppliers already signed up to participate include Arla Foods, Greenvale, Noble Foods, Gs Produce and Berryworld. 

The programme aims to help children have a "healthier relationship" with food. Tesco's announcement comes as new research from the Future Foundation revealed that even though 90% of kids say they know which foods are healthy, fewer than 10% achieve their five-a-day target.

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."

Tesco has pledged to spend GBP15m (US$25m) promoting healthier eating in the first year of the Eat Happy campaign.

Earlier this month, just-food reported on results from the National Obesity report which claimed around half the UK population would be obese by 2050. Campaigners called for manufacturers and retailers to take a more proactive stance in the fight against obesity.

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Farm to Fork visits open to every primary school in the UK

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 per cent) 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 said: “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.”

Pete Mountstephen, Chair of the Primary Heads Association, said: "The key to reconnecting kids' knowledge of food to what they eat is getting them excited, at a young age, about where their favourite food comes from and how it gets to their plate. Schoolchildren across the UK definitely have the appetite to learn, engage and understand more about the provenance of their favourite meals and in particular discover and explore the farms and other suppliers of that food.

“I'm hugely excited about the Farm-to-Fork initiative and the aims of the Tesco Eat Happy Project and I have no doubt the UK's primary schoolchildren will thoroughly enjoy their experiences on the Farm-to-Fork trails."

Simon O’Neill, Diabetes UK’s Director of Health Intelligence said: “The Tesco Eat Happy Project is a great initiative that will help children understand the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet. The best way to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future - whatever age you are - is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and by being regularly physically active. Making sensible food choices and adapting your eating habits can also help people with diabetes to better manage their condition and avoid complications.”

Carmel McConnell, Founder of children's education and health charity, Magic Breakfast, said: "Most children need active encouragement to go outside their favourite food habits, to try different types of food, in the correct proportions, in order to have a healthy and well-balanced diet. However many families don't have the money, or time, or food awareness to be able to do this successfully, which can mean children miss out on vital nutrients, as well as the chance to discover new flavours and recipes. So, in trying to broaden the food horizons of a million primary school children, the Tesco Eat Happy project looks like a welcome and ambitious new approach to children's food education and I am pleased to be able to give my support to a great scheme encouraging healthier family eating.'

Marvin Chow, Global Marketing Director for Google+ said: “We’re delighted to work with Tesco on their food education programme through Google+ Connected Classrooms to bring their virtual field trips to classrooms in the UK and globally via Google+ Hangouts. It's great to see a brand use Google+ technology to educate children on where food comes from, helping them develop a healthier relationship with it."

Jamie Spafford, Sorted Food said: "Sorted's mission has always been to get young people into the kitchen cooking up great food. The Eat Happy Project seems like a great way to get that message out to more people, and helps to kick start the health of the next generation."

Linda Cregan, Chief Executive of the Children’s Food Trust said: “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.” Notes to editors Schools should register their interest now for the Farm to Fork Trails (which start on 25 February) at www.tesco.com/eathappyproject 

Amongst the food suppliers already signed up to participate are: Arla (dairy), Greenvale (potatoes), Noble Foods (eggs), Gs Produce (vegetables and salad) and Berryworld (fresh berries). Tesco is also building a new tool to help give customers better information about the nutritional content of their shopping baskets. The Healthy Little Choices Tracker will also help Tesco better understand how promotions and offers can help to encourage healthy choices. 

Original source: Tesco

Sectors: Health & wellness, Retail

Companies: Tesco, Arla Foods, Noble Foods

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