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Making fresh fruit and veg fun

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You can lead a kid to veggies but it’s tough to get them interested in eating them, unless you make it fun that is.

Australian kids are only consuming five serves of veg a week at dinner time and Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg program, delivered by The Good Foundation, seeks to put fun back into fresh food and change the eating habits of kids nationwide.

Learn Your Fruit and Veg is an evidence based hands-on food education program for primary schools. It engages and excites children about fresh food by teaching them simple to follow and quick to prepare recipes, using Jamie Oliver’s signature cooking tips and shortcuts.

Jamie Oliver said: “At its simplest, Learn Your Fruit and Veg is about celebrating fresh produce and all the delicious things you can make with veg and fruit! Plus, any extra support we can give teachers, parents and families to get kids engaged in cooking from scratch – giving them the skills to feed themselves well – takes us all one step closer to a happier, healthier future.”

New national research commissioned by The Good Foundation has revealed that the majority (71%) of Australian kids aged 3–17 are not getting the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables; with less than a third eating veggies every night. Alarmingly, Australian kids only consume veggies with dinner five times a week on average, when the government’s dietary guidelines recommend five serves of vegetables per day. 

While the root cause of this is complex and varied, Australian parents attribute increasingly busy lifestyles the ease and accessibility of packaged/convenience dinners and takeaway food as strong contributors. 57% of parents believe it is quicker to get fast food than prepare a meal from scratch.

Of the parents surveyed 58% said that if given more time they would like to cook more meals, and 44% cited that they sometimes feel guilty about not cooking more meals containing fresh vegetables. However, busy lifestyles, juggling work and family pressures, along with the desire to find comfort among it all, is a reality that is not going away any time soon: 62% of families surveyed agreed that “some nights you just have to serve comfort food to keep the family happy.” Of course, ‘comfort food’ doesn’t have to be unhealthy – with the right knowledge and skills, it can be quick and easy to cook meals that are yummy, comforting and healthy.

Learn Your Fruit and Veg lessons focus on a hero fruit or vegetable and students are taught what the fruit or veg is, where it comes from, and how it affects their bodies. Lessons last for 60 minutes and see children roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, smelling, touching and tasting fresh produce. They walk away from a class having learnt the benefits of healthy eating and able to cook a nutritious and simple meal.

Amy Smith, CEO of The Good Foundation said, “Our research revealed that cooking has a positive influence on how many vegetables Australian families eat. Kids and teenagers who cook more often, and families who eat together, are more likely to regularly consume fresh veggies. Currently a fifth of our teens never cook a meal at home, and less than half do so monthly. We have a bold ambition to change the eating habits of our kids for the better. If exposed to fruit and veg regularly from a young age, they are more likely to consume them as adults. Early intervention is key.”

The earn Your Fruit and Veg is delivered by trained facilitators and none of the recipes require heat or kitchen facilities; making the program very easy for schools to deliver and for children to implement their learnings at home.

Karen Martini, Australian chef, author and ambassador of Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg Australia said, “I am so thrilled to support this program. One of the biggest challenges we face as parents is getting the foundations right for the long term health and well-being of our kids."

Schools and learning centres interested in offering the program within their community can register to be matched with facilitators in their area. Those interested in becoming a Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg facilitator can register for online training. For more information and to sign up visit www.jamiesministryoffood.com.au


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