Like many of my constituents, I believe it is very important that young children have the opportunity to use their senses, explore food and develop a love of eating vegetables and fruit.
According to the Food Foundation, the number of children eating little or no vegetables has increased in the last 10 years. Nearly a third of primary children eat less than one portion of vegetables a day. I believe these trends are unacceptable and must be reversed.
Research shows that if children enjoy eating healthy foods, they are more likely to eat them for life. I believe that sensory food education can help address this as evidence suggests it can increase children’s willingness to try new foods.
As such, I welcome the Department for Education’s work with TastEd. Based on the Sapere method used in Finland and Sweden, TastEd gives children opportunities to explore food, using their senses, to help them learn to love eating vegetables and fruit for life. I am aware that over 600 schools and nurseries are already signed up to TastEd's programmes and the Government is committed to ensuring that all settings benefit from these lessons.
The Department has also published an article promoting sensory food education on the ‘Help for early years providers’ online platform, which is a resource for childminders, nursery leaders and pre-school practitioners. This supports practitioners to look at incorporating sensory food education into their practice while delivering the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage requirements.
The sensory food education article can be found here: https://help-for-early-years-providers.educa- tion.gov.uk/get-help-to-improve-your-practice/sensory-food-education.
As a mother and former sports minister, I can assure my constituents that this is an issue I will continue to monitor closely as I am acutely aware of the benefits that sensory food play can bring to children.