It has been an action packed and fun-filled year for the PhunkyFoods Engagement and Development Coordinators (EDC) across the country. On behalf of my dedicated and passionate team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our schools for their continued support and for seeing the value in what we do. We hope that we have helped to inspire you and provide you with confidence in using our resources within your own schools. It is so rewarding to see children embrace healthy lifestyle messages, and to support schools in doing this.
As an EDC in my first full year, I have had the most incredible experiences, and worked with some wonderful people. It has mostly been fun, but I have certainly been faced with challenges too.
Throughout the year, I have held several training days, focusing on topics such as running successful Breakfast and After School clubs, how to deliver Mindfulness workshops and how to navigate our comprehensive website that offers so many brilliant resources.
This year I have welcomed new schools on board, and also re-engaged with others that we had previously worked with. It has been a pleasure meeting you all, and I would like to thank you all for welcoming me and making me feel a part of your teams!
I have made lots and lots of delicious food with the children, both non-cook in the classrooms, as well as full food preparation in the kitchens. It has been a really positive way to encourage children to try new foods, learn knife skills, to get excited about weighing, measuring and following recipes and supporting their termly topics such as the Romans, Disney animation and Super Heroes!
Some challenges that I have faced this year have involved parental engagement. I have worked alongside a school to implement a Packed Lunch Policy, and braved fronting parent steering groups to broaden understanding around the School Food Standards. There have been some pretty worrying packed lunches sent into schools lately, and there appears to be a trend in sending confectionary into schools on birthdays and other special occasions too. With the need to expand parental knowledge in this area, I hope to run a training day next year around these standards, and how to engage and acquire the support of the parents, so that schools can feel more confident in broaching this subject.
Another challenge and learning curve for me this year was a Parent and Child cookery club that I ran in an area where a large majority of families rely heavily on the Food Bank. I started out with a vision of parents that had basic healthy eating and cooking skills, but that might need a bit more help with budgeting the recipes. I was met however, with some parents that didn’t own basic pans or other cooking implements, and those that survived predominantly on microwave ready meals or take-aways. Some parents cringed with embarrassment when their children looked to them for answers when I asked questions such as “how many portions of fruit and vegetables should we try to eat every day”. I felt immense shame for not realising sooner that not everyone has been given the knowledge that they deserve to be able to support their families in leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Together with the support of a very dedicated Children’s Champion (who I won’t name as I know she would probably prefer not to be!) and my dedicated team, we got our heads together and came up with some wonderful, easy, quick and nutritious recipes. It was such a rewarding experience to support these families in finding healthy and low cost ways to feed their families and to see bonds grow between the parents and their children, but to also learn how to tactfully pass on the information that I am delivering to their children. I have been struck by the immense importance of parental engagement this year, and hope to gain your support in pushing this further in 2020.
Other highs this year have also included welcoming brand new Phunky Ambassadors on board to take the lead in spreading our key messages throughout their schools. This is one of our most popular programmes, and really gives the children the opportunity to take ownership and responsibility for guiding their peers with specific topics. We have run Eatwell Guide, Strive for Five, Top Teeth, Drain Your Drinks and Mindfulness workshops, where the children have really got involved and excited, and the information taught by your teachers has really been consolidated.
And of course, not forgetting our infamous International Chef’s Day, where top international Nestle chef’s come and lead a big cook off!
It really has been a great year, and I am beyond excited to see what the New Year brings us! I can’t wait to work alongside you all, as we continue to provide our children and their families with such significant knowledge and skills.
Happy Christmas, and a very merry New Year to you all!
Lucy, EDC for York