Cook­ing in schools: you can stir the pot _______________________________

Veg­eta­bles.co is in­volved in help­ing kids to cook. You, as par­ents, could play an im­por­tant role in this by en­cour­ag­ing your schools to in­clude healthy cook­ing in the cur­ricu­lum.

NZ Grower - - Future Focus -

AN­DRE DE BRUIN, CHAIR­MAN OF VEG­ETA­BLES.CO.NZ AND A KU­MARA GROWER.

The grow­ers who make up the com­mit­tee of veg­eta­bles.co.nz be­gan the Kids Can Cook a Meal project 18 months ago. Kids Can Cook a Meal is about teach­ing chil­dren the skills needed to cook a healthy meal so fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will be well equipped to en­joy a nu­tri­tious and var­ied diet us­ing lo­cally-grown pro­duce.

How­ever, while some schools are do­ing a great job at teach­ing cook­ing as a life skill, many are strug­gling with this task. We need to lift the bar to help our schools to do this.

A sur­vey of Year 7&8 school cook­ing pro­grammes found only 13% of teach­ers iden­ti­fied stu­dents be­ing able to plan and pre­pare a com­plete main meal as a key learn­ing ob­jec­tive.

Other key find­ings in­clude:

• Less than 50% of the food pre­pared by school stu­dents con­sti­tuted a main meal, with many opt­ing for cakes, muffins and desserts;

• Just 10% of teach­ers sur­veyed said that the in­clu­sion of fruit and veg­eta­bles in­flu­enced their recipe choice;

• The stan­dard and con­sis­tency of teach­ing cook­ing as a life skill varies sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween schools. As a di­rect re­sult of this re­search, veg­eta­bles.co.nz has been work­ing to raise the pro­file of school cook­ing and chal­lenge the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cur­rent cur­ricu­lum. We have been do­ing this in a num­ber of ways in­clud­ing:

• Ed­u­ca­tion. Teach­ers and prin­ci­pals from tar­geted schools have agreed there is a need to give teach­ers ac­cess to prac­ti­cal re­sources, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and col­le­gial sup­port. Teach­ing staff also iden­ti­fied the time needed to achieve their tar­gets as a vi­tal fac­tor.

• Ad­vo­cacy. We have told gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that cook­ing a nu­tri­tious meal should be a key cur­ricu­lum re­quire­ment and that sup­port be pro­vided to en­able this.

• In­dus­try stake­hold­ers. Veg­eta­bles. co.nz, along with the Heart Foun­da­tion, has taken a lead role in bring­ing to­gether key rep­re­sen­ta­tives of sev­eral groups who are ed­u­cat­ing stu­dents on healthy food choices. The aim is to work to­gether to pro­vide the sup­port and tools needed to en­cour­age cook­ing in schools.

• Com­mu­nity. There is an ex­pec­ta­tion within most New Zealand com­mu­ni­ties that our chil­dren will have the op­por­tu­nity to learn prac­ti­cal cook­ing skills. To make this hap­pen, we need to pro­mote the idea lo­cally.

“We want Kiwi kids to have the skills and abil­ity to cook a healthy meal with veg­eta­bles”

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