The Food Education Platform, which provides various learning modules including taste lessons for 75% of Dutch primary schools, will continue to develop its food education programme to keep up with the times. This partnership between the industry, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality as part of the Top Sectors policy has been extended for four years.
The Food Education Platform is a public-private partnership in which WUR works together with the industry, government, education and social organisations to provide unbiased education about food and nutrition for children. The programme focusses on eating, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing food. Children learn where their food comes from and that healthy food can also be tasty food.
As part of this programme, WUR provides taste lessons and taste missions in cooperation with, among others, the Dutch Nutrition Centre, Jong Leren Eten (teaching the youth about healthy food), the Gezonde School (healthy diets for school children) and various businesses. More than 100 regional partners also participate, including chefs, dieticians, farmers and partners in the green education sector.
More focus on 21st century skills
The platform is coordinated by the Taste Lessons & EU School Fruit team, part of WUR. “The programme is already very comprehensive, but to create even more impact we want to make the lessons more up-to-date and user-friendly and introduce new working methods,” says team leader Fieke Franken. “We also want to focus more on ‘21st century skills’, such being aware of fake news.”
Food aware children
WUR started providing food education in 2006 with a taste lessons pilot at a number of primary schools. In 2013 it joined a public-private partnership, the Food Education Platform. This is an implementation programme initiated by the Dutch industry and the government that aims to make children between the ages of four and twelve more food aware by providing them with objective knowledge. The taste lessons and taste missions programmes reach 75% of schools.
The aim is that these future consumers learn to make informed, healthy and sustainable choices, while also fostering their interest in the AgriFood sector.
Knowledge and good intentions on the increase
Research has revealed that children know more about healthy and sustainable eating after following the taste lessons programme. They feel encouraged to taste unfamiliar products and are more inclined to eat healthier. Taste lessons is also part of the Nutrition certificate of the Healthy School approach, an initiative of the ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport, Economic Affairs and Education.
Providing objective education together with the industry
WUR develops all teaching materials using by the partnership. An independent Supervisory Board and Review Committee monitor the policy, independence and content of the Food Education Platform teaching materials. All members are committed to the code of conduct and thereby to the quality standards and the provision of objective, unambiguous and non-branded communication about the food education activities. The teaching material only discusses the food pyramid and avoids promoting any products or brands.
Businesses support the partnership financially and also contribute good ideas, access to their networks, and non-branded materials for schools. “For example, various businesses helped us to mobilise cooks for the ‘Chef in the classroom’ project,” says Franken. “One of the businesses is now also supplying non-branded seeds for a vegetable gardening project.”