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Newark and Sherwood serve-up healthy food for county children's scheme


By Abigail Hunt


Newark and Sherwood are set to serve-up healthy food as part of a county-wide children's scheme.

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

The health scheme has been introduced in response to shocking figures that reveal almost a quarter (22.5%) of Notts children are already overweight or obese by the time they reach reception age.

Nottinghamshire serves up healthy food in response to shocking obesity statistics (14026930)
Nottinghamshire serves up healthy food in response to shocking obesity statistics (14026930)

The Department of Health and Social Care made the announcement in June that the county council will be a "childhood obesity trailblazer" to test out new and innovative ideas.

It will be given £100,000 a year for three years to target families of pre-school children – aged six months to five years – and their childcare providers, with the hope to reduce childhood obesity and make a difference.

Councillor Tony Harper, chair of adult social care and public health committee, said he was delighted at the success in the council's bid for the scheme as there 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," he explained.

"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.”

The county council’s plans include:

  • Testing the creation of low-cost healthy food recipe boxes that 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 them out
  • 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

The programme will target areas within the county where obesity is currently higher, including parts of Newark and Sherwood, Mansfield, Ashfield and Bassetlaw.

And additional support will be available to early years and childcare workers across the country to promote nutrition and consistent healthy messages.

Ann Crawford, deputy director of health, wellbeing and workforce development at Public Health England East Midlands, said: "While obesity has no quick fix, this trailblazer project at Nottinghamshire County 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 department of health and social care will share results from the 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 in June 2018.

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