Healthy eating conference asks Leeds schools to combat child obesity

By Alex Smith

HEALTHY MEALS were on the menu at the School Food Conference, as head teachers from around Leeds were shown the benefits of providing a balanced diet for children.

The conference showcased stalls and presentations from several companies on December 5, promoting how schools can provide a healthier lifestyle for children, by working with parents and the students to create an exciting, yet healthy program.

It was part of a wider effort at tackling childhood obesity, continuing from Jamie Oliver’s campaign in 2005, by encouraging schools to take an active role in providing good quality food for young children.

Siobhan O’Mahony, the event organiser, said: “We need to provide some sort of nutritional safety net. It is down to schools and it is down to the city to work together and support that.

“The idea of the conference is we want people to go back to school and change the food that they provide to make things better.”

She praised the enthusiasm of the participants and said the response from the community had been “fantastic”.

Stephanie Ngenda, head of school for Rainbow Primary said: “It’s been a fantastic event, it’s really important work which is taking place. It’s really raising the importance of working together with parents to drive forward that message of healthy lifestyles and healthy eating.

“I really liked the idea of the starters instead of desserts. I sat and thought crikey that’s really obvious why have we not thought of that before? But I think it’ll be a good vehicle in to reduce the amount of sugar that children take in daily.”

Gareth Batty, chief executive for FareShare Yorkshire, a charity devoted to redistributing surplus food, said: “It’s a really good event to bring schools and organisations and people working in the area of school food. Bring everyone together to look at new ideas and look at how we progress school food to make it healthy for children.

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