Notts to serve up healthy food

25 June 2019

Nottinghamshire has been selected as one of only five councils in the country to deliver an ambitious programme to put healthy food on the menu for young children.

The Department of Health and Social Care made the announcement today that Nottinghamshire County Council will be a Childhood Obesity Trailblazer to test out new and innovative ideas. The Council will receive £100,000 a year for three years to target families of pre-school children (six months – five years) and their childcare providers.

Statistics show that almost a quarter (22.5%) of Nottinghamshire children are already overweight or obese by the time they reach reception age, showing that many of the current school age initiatives are too late to make a difference.

The Council’s plans include:

  • Testing the creation of low-cost healthy food recipe boxes. These will contain recipe cards and ingredients for at least two family meals a week and will be priced at £3 – 4.
  • Promoting Healthy Start vouchers and testing out innovative uses such as purchasing recipe boxes.
  • Trialling the extension of the Council’s school meals to early years childcare providers.
  • Offering nutritionist and development chef support to early years staff and child minders who cook and serve their own food.
  • Developing grow-your-own schemes and small businesses in the community.
  • Supporting parents to develop good eating habits with their children by offering them learning, peer support and the opportunity to cook, grow, eat and learn about food together at children’s centres.
  • Promoting consistent messages on healthy food for pre-school children.

Councillor Tony Harper, Chair of Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said: “I am delighted that we’ve been successful in our bid for this scheme, as there were initially 102 local authorities who applied for the funding.

 "Research shows that eating habits formed at an early age can last a lifetime, so we want to target families of young children and their childcare providers to try and make a positive difference. This isn’t about telling families what they should or shouldn’t be eating, but it aims to remove some of the existing barriers that are currently in their way. We will put a range of options in place to help people learn about growing, preparing, cooking and eating healthy food in a way that is available for everyone.”

Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said: “Every child deserves the best start in life – communities need to come together to play their part in helping the next generation to be healthy and active. Prevention is at heart of our NHS Long Term Plan, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in public health. These pilots are rightly rooted in the needs of the communities they serve and I look forward to seeing what benefits this grassroots approach has on our nation's obesity problem."

Ann Crawford, Deputy Director - Health, Wellbeing and Workforce Development at Public Health England East Midlands, said: “While obesity has no quick fix, this trailblazer project at Nottinghamshire Count Council is an innovative solution that clearly prioritises children and their long-term health. From expert local knowledge, to local authority intervention, community support and government action, we all have crucial roles to play in combatting obesity.”

The programme will target areas where obesity in reception age children is currently higher, including parts of Bassetlaw, Ashfield, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood. Additional support will be available to early years and childcare workers across the county to provide chef time and nutritionist support and promote consistent messages.

The Department of Health and Social Care will share learning from these programmes with local authorities across the country to inspire wider innovation. It is hoped that more local authorities will follow suit and use their powers to do similar work in their areas. 

The work is part of the government’s Trailblazer programme and is part of the second chapter of the Government’s childhood obesity plan, which was launched a year ago today.

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