Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Top of the class for food champions Heart of England fine food
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 4.
As schools and councils are urged to make it harder for children to swap their school meals for a takeaway, Heart of England fine foods (HEFFs) are already scoring full marks for its pioneering healthy eating campaign.
The West Midlands food champion is encouraging children across the region to swap chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks for healthier options supplied by local producers.
Since last year, HEFF has been pioneering an innovative project to steer youngsters away from fat-stacked, sugar-packed tuck shop foods and towards the V-Machine – a vending machine offering nutritious break and lunchtime snacks and drinks.
Funded by Advantage West Midlands, through the West Midlands Food Partnership, the subsidised and highly visual V-Machine is branded under HEFF's popular retail support scheme – savour the flavour.
The campaign also sees the roll-out of HEFF's branded smoothie bars to local schools supplied by regional fruit growers.
Karen Davies, HEFF's chief executive, said: “Not only do V-Machines and smoothie bars promote healthy eating in schools, and help ensure a more balanced diet, they also encourage children to enjoy great tasting local food and drink”.
“Unlike typical vending machines, our V-Machine is stocked with water, milk, fruit juices, fruit, yoghurts, nuts and pulses, all very competitively priced. Products have been analysed by an independent nutritionist to ensure they are in line with Government healthy eating guidelines”.
“V-Machines and smoothie bars will benefit schools and children, as well as food and drink producers in the midlands who will access a large new customer base”.
Catherine Goodridge, school food and heath co-ordinator for the West Midlands, said: “Encouraging children to eat healthy balanced diets is a priority. Eating habits are changing for the better, but there is still a long way to go. Innovative ways to encourage healthier eating are very welcome. HEFF's V-Machine will support our activity in promoting healthy and nutritious food and drink to youngsters in line with government guidelines to purge our schools of junk food”.
V-Machines and smoothie bars are already in place at schools across the West Midlands, with more to follow as educational establishments increasingly recognise the negative impact of foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
In a recent survey examining the eating habits, weight and fitness of children and teenagers, doctors found that 16.6 per cent of boys and 16.7 per cent of girls under the age of ten are now obese. And current trends predict that by 2010, this will increase to an alarming 19 per cent for boys and 22 per cent of girls between the ages of 2 and 15.
With busier lifestyles, reduced physical activity and the continuing availability of junk food in many schools, youngsters across the midlands are becoming more unhealthy.
“We're urging more schools to take our vending machines. It's about getting school food right and encouraging healthy eating habits from an early age”, added Karen Davies.
“At the same time, we can help support local producers and decrease food miles”.
For schools taking a V-Machine or a smoothie bar, school workshops run by HEFF for both pupils and parents, can also be arranged to highlight the benefits of healthy eating, and offer the chance to meet the local producers.
To arrange a school workshop call HEFF on 01746 785185.
HEFFs was formed in 1998 to promote and raise awareness of food and drink within the West Midlands. Through an extensive programme, the organisation helps the region's food and drink businesses to develop, expand and create profitable and sustainable markets for their products.
HEFF is proud to be the managing body for the West Midlands Food Partnership and continues to focus on government strategies, the move towards healthier eating and increased awareness of environmental issues.
Further information on HEFF can be found at: www.heff.co.uk