Despite a three year break the team from Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust are back running cookery days in Christchurch primary schools. A total of eleven cookery days are being run throughout the district with children being taught a range of cookery skills and given nutritional guidance in order to make healthy food choices.

The sessions are aimed at years 4 and 5 children and are being organised by Mary Reader a trustee of the charity and the founder of the original Christchurch food festival. She is joined by nutritional specialist Diane Thomas and chefs Loic Gratadoux and Colin Nash. Also part of the team is Masters degree student Jessica Grant from Bournemouth University.

Following an introduction about the importance of eating breakfast the children are split into three groups by their teacher and the class works on three separate tables. One includes learning to chop vegetables safely and the value of including fish in the diet by making a Steamed trout dish with vegetables. Another includes a Spiced chicken dish on stir fried vegetables and teaches the children to recognise a wide range of vegetables and about how adding spices, juices and sauces to vegetables can totally improve the flavour.

The Third table is an interactive session of Food Detectives where they learn about branded foods and the labelling on packaging. They also have to guess the amount of sugar in each one, often being surprised by those breakfast cereals and drinks that look healthy but aren’t!

Mary Reader explains “a major part of our sessions is about the children tasting the food. We always re-group at the end of the sessions and the children tell us what they have learned from taking part. So many children are surprised to find that they do like things that they thought they didn’t like, with the fish often being a favourite food choice! We encourage the children to think about sustainability and encourage them to buy local food and to grow their own fruit and vegetable wherever possible, even if it is having a few pots of herbs outside the back door or on a balcony for those that live in flats.

“It is now fifteen years since we formalised this work by starting this  charity, and although it is hard work to put together, seeing the children respond so well makes it all worthwhile.”

For more information about Christchurch Food Festival Education Trust please see our website. or contact:

Mary Reader on 01425 837961 or 07966 561441