TastEd comes to IslingtonFran
Our year at TastEd got off to a great start. Ever since we formed as an organisation at the start of 2019, our dream has been to help as many children as possible in the U.K. benefit from sensory food education. We believe that taste education should be a universal entitlement for all children, as it is in Finnish preschools. In February, we got one huge step further to achieving the dream by starting to implement TastEd in schools and other settings across a whole London borough.
Most of the TastEd team headed to London in early February to train more than 40 teachers and early years professionals in the TastEd method with a view to implementing TastEd in settings across the whole of Islington borough council. We were invited to do the training by Marjon Willers, a specialist school dietitian who has been working as part of the Islington Health and Wellbeing Team since 2005. Marjon sees TastEd as one part of the jigsaw of improving child health across the borough.
It was Ruth Platt (an education consultant) who delivered the training and who led the group of teachers, nursery teachers and family cooking champions in a series of fun sensory food activities. Teachers explored the flavour of different apple varieties, discussed whether purple carrots taste different from orange ones and tried to come up with the best possible similes to describe the texture of a Savoy cabbage leaf (the winning answer was that it was like a swimming hat).
What was particularly lovely about the session was hearing the teachers have conversations about food among themselves. Some of them swapped their favourite recipes for pickles and spoke openly about their own likes and dislikes.
For us, the most encouraging thing about the training was that every teacher and early years professional we met could see the benefit of TastEd. Some spoke of their sadness and frustration at the very limited diet that many children in their care eat (for a whole range of reasons, some economic, some personal, some social) and their desire to help them widen their palates.
There was a mood of optimism in the room that TastEd could be the missing form of food education these teachers were looking for: something which could be fun for the children but also make parents feel supported in the often unrewarding and impossible-seeming task of helping a reluctant child to enjoy trying vegetables and fruits.
The second stage of the project will involve giving the Islington schools vouchers to cover the cost of the fresh vegetables and fruits plus extra training and support for teachers. Watch this space for further updates.
By Bee Wilson