Healthy eating drive goes down well at Sidmouth Primary

A HEALTHY meal-time drive at Sidmouth C of E Primary School has gone from strength to strength as parents have been urged to leave chocolate and crisps out of children’s lunch boxes.

Gill Vosper, kitchen manager at the school’s Manstone Avenue site, has spearheaded a four-year effort to overhaul the way youngsters dine. She now hopes the initiative can spread to the primary’s other sites after it was named as a finalist in the Taste of the West awards for the first time after several attempts. “Our lunchtimes have hugely changed, we didn’t even have a kitchen to start with,” said Gill, who has deigned nutritionally balanced menus for youngsters that include a salad bar, roast dinners and home-made pizza.

She started the project four years ago with former Sidmouth Infants headteacher Hilary Williams. Then, the school opted to provide its own meals and to dish up healthy, local cuisine. Firms like Hayman’s, Waitrose and MJ Baker have helped the school source food.

“We encourage parents to come in and have lunch with the children, and do adult meals for them. We even have a grandparents day,” added Gill, who is ably assisted by a team of helpers. “Parents come to me and say they’ve told their kids ‘Gill has given us the recipe for mashed potato’ as they won’t eat it at home - and now they do. Some had never wanted to eat broccoli before. It’s also about encouraging children to sit down at a table and use a knife and fork when they eat. Believe it or not, that’s not that common for children today, and many eat with their plates on their laps in front of the television.”

John Montgomery, the primary school’s assistant headteacher, said: “We try and promote healthy eating in any way. It’s a moral responsibility if nothing less.”