Katherine Tate, aka The Food Teacher, has a head start when it comes to getting 30 youngsters to engage with healthy eating.
Tate is a qualified primary school teacher, who retrained in 2014 as a nutritional therapist, ensuring she knows exactly how to work a classroom.
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In recent years, Katherine has been heavily involved with the Young Chef Awards, a NHS-funded initiative that sees schoolchildren learning about healthy eating, and then competing against each other to cook creative dishes.
In a video interview with The College of Medicine, Katherine says future health has always been the goal: “When I started this, it was very much put to me as a challenge to engage children around food and nutrition – and their parents – and try to have some impact on general health and well-being of pupils.”
She continues: “The most exciting part of my job is the Young Chef Awards, launched back in 2017 with NHS funding. It’s been rolling out nationally since, which is brilliant.”
“Headteachers were really behind making a difference, and also the NHS – we worked with a GP – and once the awards were in schools, and the children started to engage with it and teachers started to deliver it, the impact then was massive.”
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Speaking about Manchester United star Marcus Rashford’s recent campaign to lobby MPs to keep school meal vouchers available during the summer holidays following the COVID-19 outbreak, Katherine says: “Putting food and nutrition and our well-being right at the top is really important going forward.
“A lot of children get their food from school, sadly. Food poverty is a real problem in some parts of the UK. I’ve seen packed lunches that have been provided by local authorities and that food is often very packaged and very processed.”
It will be difficult, adds the nutrition expert, to counter almost six months of lockdown: “With food nutrition, the opportunity to give children hands-on, practical experience will likely have been lost during this period.
“However, really interestingly, I’ve had so many schools come to me, saying ‘I want to start this in September’ – because we’re talking about health and nutrition; it couldn’t be more important at this time.”