Did you know that currently only 6 per cent of children aged 2-17 years are consuming the recommended amount of vegetables each day? And as most of us know, good nutrition is important for general health, and it’s also important for eye health.
That's why the team at Good vision for life was encouraged this week to learn of a great new initiative called VegKIT, set up to help parents increase their kids’ veggie intake. The VegKIT project is a 5-year, $4 million project funded by Hort Innovation and run by CSIRO (Australia’s National Science Agency), Flinders University and Nutrition Australia.
VegKIT has launched a collection of new resources that provide practical strategies, insights and guidance. The resources aim to inspire educators and carers, as well as policy-makers, food industry and vegetable growers.
“We have parents coming to us telling us of the struggles of mealtimes at home. But the fact is, a lot of the children in our care are here for 6-10 hours a day. It shouldn’t be on parents alone.” Julie Lemmon, Healthy Eating Leader, and Centre Cook at Clarendon Street Childcare Centre in Melbourne said.
Currently, 2 million children (49%) aged 0-12 years attend formal care and the majority of their daily meals and snacks are provided in this setting. In fact, 60% of children are eating their meals outside of the home. Care environments play a pivotal role in a child’s acceptance of vegetables.
CSIRO’s Dr Gilly Hendrie explains, “In this project we wanted to focus on places where children spend their time outside of their homes; on people who directly impact children’s vegetable intake through food provision; and on education environments.”
VegKIT research has found food manufacturers, policy makers and growers can also positively influence kids’ diets.
Olivia Bates, CEO, Nourishing Bubs and Paediatric Dietitian agrees, “The food industry certainly has a role to play in increasing children’s vegetable consumption. As an industry, we have a direct link to children and their parents. A project like VegKIT provides us with evidence-based insight into the types and composition of products that children are likely to not only accept, but like to eat. Food industry can absolutely help children love their veggies by focusing at least part of their R&D efforts on developing products which hero vegetables.”
And the benefits of increasing veggie intake are widespread. Not only does establishing a love of vegetables help children carry that love along into later life, but ensuring each child is eating an additional ½ cup of veggies per day provides obvious benefits for vegetable growers, and a flow-on effect for the economy.
The new VegKIT guides are all available free-of-charge and can be downloaded on the refreshed VegKIT website. Stay up to date at www.vegkit.com.au.