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    Home arrow 5 A Day arrow About the National School Fruit Scheme

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About the National School Fruit Scheme


The National School Fruit Scheme is an exciting and ambitious initiative, and the government is keen to make it a success. A series of pilot schemes, in autumn 2000 in three pilot areas, and spring 2001 in over 20 areas and hundreds of schools, were carried out in Health Action Zones. These were then carefully evaluated to identify the most effective way to implement the scheme with the minimum disruption and burden to schools. The intention is to develop a robust, practical national scheme, which has a positive impact on the whole school community. The scheme will be rolled out nationally from 2004.
In these pilots and in ongoing evaluation the following issues are being considered:

From farm to school gate – getting the fruit to schools
What is the best way to purchase and distribute the fruit? Who should be involved? How can the best quality and value be obtained? How much local flexibility is needed?

School gate to child’s hand – distributing fruit in the school
What time and method is best for distribution of the fruit – in morning or afternoon break? Could fruit be part of breakfast clubs and tuck shops? What factors are key to avoiding a burden on teachers?

 

Hand to mouth – encouraging children to eat the fruit
What can we learn from programmes across the country which successfully encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables? Are there useful support materials? What do teachers find most effective and helpful? Following the success of the pilots, the National School Fruit Scheme is being extended to other parts of England starting in the summer term 2002, with funding from the New Opportunities Fund.

“We want children to have a positive and enjoyable experience of fruit and vegetables from an early age.”

Making a success of the Scheme
The National School Fruit Scheme will provide and deliver a selection of fruit for children in infant classes. The Scheme aims to involve the whole school community – younger and older children, as well as school staff, parents and others – as part of a wider programme to support access to healthy food for children. There are a number of successful programmes in schools aimed at encouraging children to eat healthy diets, and the National School Fruit Scheme will use the lessons learned from these. Leading researchers in the field have found that there are several key features of successful initiatives, set out below.

Positive and fun – making fruit and vegetables part of children’s culture
Integrating fruit and vegetables into children’s culture in a positive way seems to be a key to effective initiatives. Overall, research indicates that schemes that have a high profile across the school community can help to create such a culture.
Reward schemes, for example, using stickers and other prizes, and tasting sessions seem to be very effective in getting children to try new fruits and vegetables repeatedly, and to develop a taste for them. Teachers in one project, the Food Dudes, found that children who habitually failed in normal classroom activities gained self-confidence by being able to succeed and win rewards by eating their fruit. Using positive and fun role models and posters, for example, also seems to help integrate fruit and vegetables into children’s culture.

 
 

Involving older children
It is well established that older children can be important role models for younger children. Initiatives which have involved older children, for example in running fruit-only tuck shops, fruit tasting sessions, assessing fruit and vegetable intakes, and in videos, have met with success and helped generate a positive culture towards fruit and vegetables across the school. Research also indicates that peers now have a stronger influence on children’s eating habits than family, so children may be particularly motivated to eat fruit at school because of the group activity.

Enthusiasm and positive adult role models
School initiatives which have the commitment of senior teachers, as well as other adults such as classroom assistants, caterers and parents, have met with success. For example, teachers in some schools have endorsed children’s eating of fruit and vegetables by their enthusiasm and by acting as role models. Some schools have found that young children seem to be particularly encouraged to taste fruit by a teacher who is regularly introducing them to new ideas. Some schools also offer tasting sessions in the school canteen.

 
Back to "Prevention – A Government Priority"
Eating five portions a day – what counts?

 
 

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