Research shows that people who are exposed to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables during their childhood are more likely to continue eating them as adults. One way to help teach children the importance of eating fruits and vegetables is to bring such nutrition education into the classroom.

The 5+ A Day campaign in New Zealand, for example, has delivered their message promoting five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day to the country’s early childhood centres and primary schools with outstanding results: One survey shows that 73 percent of children now have fruit or vegetables in their lunchboxes every day, and 66 percent of parents believe the 5+ A Day campaign has helped encourage their children to eat more fresh produce.

There is also evidence to suggest that children who receive nutritional information messages in school tend to carry those messages home to their parents. In one such education project in rural, southern India, for example, 84 percent of parents in 18 villages reported they had received information from their children about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.

FAO helps facilitate such education initiatives with two different programmes: “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” provides materials and lesson plans on issues related to nutrition and food security that teachers around the globe can adapt for use in their classrooms. The Telefood campaign uses high-profile concerts, sporting events and other activities to raise donations for small, sustainable farming projects — such as school gardens, which provide children with an opportunity to learn horticultural skills as well as eat more fruits and vegetables — in more than 100 countries.

October 2003


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