News. Educating children about food

3rd of September, 2014

In the intense heat of the late summer sunshine a peaceful walled kitchen garden in deepest Ayrshire was alive with the sound of excited young children as they dug potatoes, lifted onions and cut curly kale for the first time in their lives.

In the purpose-built education kitchen, adjoining the garden, they washed and prepared the vegetables and learned how to make soup.

It was a significant moment for the P4 and P5 pupils from Parkview primary school in Summerston, Glasgow, many of whom live in flats, have no access to a garden and don't know how to cook from scratch. They were the first to take part in the school caterer Cordia's new Class Roots project at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, designed to give children the opportunity to learn more about the origins of food it serves them every day at school.

The launch of the project, which is free for pupils, follows a successful pilot programme which took place in May, and featured 60 pupils from Caledonia and Cleeves Primary Schools in Baillieston and Pollok.

Cordia supplies school meals in each of Glasgow City Council's 136 primary and 29 secondary schools, where school meals cost £1.50. At Parkview uptake is high, and 61% of its pupils are eligible for free school meals.

Head teacher Catherine Harte explained: "Most of our children live in flats, so this opportunity was too good to miss. We hope this will ignite in our children an interest in where their food comes from, and a desire to cook from scratch to replace lost skills.

"We want them to know that there is more to eating than just heating up processed meals, and will supplement the visit with discussions and learning. There is nothing like handling fresh produce straight from the ground. It promotes enjoyment of life through healthy eating." Mrs Harte added that she intends to establish a kitchen garden at Parkview.

Tomorrow 30 pupils from Quarry Brae primary school in Parkhead in the East End of Glasgow will take part in Cordia's Class Roots project at Dumfries House. A further 11 schools will visit before Christmas, and another 30 will take part between April and June 2015. Thereafter it is hoped to roll it out across Scotland.