New take on food education aims to plug the gap in our children's understanding
While lockdown life has placed even more emphasis on the food we eat and where it comes from, it seems a whole generation of children risk missing key information on how their food is produced. Not only are 1 in 51 kids unaware of where food like dairy comes from, but they are also unsure about food nutrition, meaning they risk being poorly equipped to make sensible, healthy choices later in life.
Arla research revealed that 1 in 10 and almost 2 in 10 children believe that chocolate and bread is made on a farm respectively, with almost half of 6-7-year-olds believing a glass of squash has more nutrition than a glass of milk1.
To help parents tackle this knowledge gap and inspire children to take a more active role in making positive food choices, dairy co-operative Arla has produced a special storybook, based on a real-life dairy farmer and his cow. Jonny and Jelly Go Round And Round has been written with Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 children in mind, and explores the origins of the nutritious staple, dairy produce.
Danny Micklethwaite, Director of the Milk Category at Arla explains “When we found out just how few children really understand where their food comes from and how it’s produced, we realised this will also impact on their understanding of what makes a nutritious product. If kids are confused now, there’s the very real risk they’ll struggle to make positive choices as they grow, so we believe it’s important to get off to a good start and wanted to support that.”
The importance of a good start is also why Arla is offering the book as a free digital download for parents and will be making a donation to the charity Magic Breakfast of 15,000* healthy breakfasts to help feed vulnerable children in the UK. This is on top of the 580,000 milk vouchers Arla has already donated as part of their ongoing partnership with the charity. Danny adds “Helping kids understand how good, nutritious food gets to the table is one thing, but we also want to help make sure that is a reality in itself. That’s why we’re working with Magic Breakfast to support hungry children around the UK. Each download of the book helps us to do that, so while parents are reading about Jonny and Jelly with their kids, they’re also helping another child get a nutritious start to their day.”
TV presenter and parent Helen Skelton is supporting the launch of the book, she said “I grew up on a dairy farm so was lucky enough to connect what I saw around me every day with what was being put on the table, but I’m really aware that so many children don’t get that opportunity so it’s easy to see how they can feel very disconnected to the food they eat. If we don’t know where our food comes from and what’s in it, how can we be expected to understand what’s good for us and what’s not? My kids have really enjoyed reading about Jonny and Jelly and finding out more about the food we enjoy.”
The book draws children into the farmyard and explores the dairy process and other elements of typical dairy farm life through the eyes of Jelly, an inquisitive cow. Curious, she follows her farmer, Jonny, around the farm and learns there’s more to what goes on than she first expected.
Arla farmer Jonny Burridge is the proud hero in the story: “It’s easy to take what we do for granted but knowing that 1 in 101 children have never been on a farm, so have no idea what goes on here or what we’re producing was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I’m really pleased that Jelly and I are the characters who will introduce children to life on a dairy farm and all that goes on here while we make the milk for their cereal. It’s even more special knowing the book is linked to making sure so many disadvantaged children are being given a good start to the day.”
The book is available to download at https://arlafoods.co.uk/forward-thinking-dairy/storytime-with-jonny-and-jelly/, and Helen will be hosting a live reading on her Instagram channel on Friday 27th November at 6.00pm.
Notes to editors
1.72 Point survey of 1000 6-11-year-old participants - November 2020
*Arla will donate £1 to Magic Breakfast for each of the first 5,100 downloads of the book from its website.