A positive start to food
The Children’s Kitchen (TCK) is a city-wide Feeding Bristol and Bristol Early Years project which is focused on the areas of Bristol with the highest levels of food inequality.
The Children’s Kitchen aims to:
- Highlight the importance of building a healthy relationship with food at a young age, focusing on fresh produce rather than sweet treats.
- Creating growing spaces and a term-based planting plan so that children can learn about food ‘Plot to Plate.’
- Developing confidence and food knowledge for education practitioners and people who work with children and young people.
- Linking Early Years food with the wider food education networks and strategic planning for the city, particularly focused on addressing food insecurity.
- Supporting settings to improve their approach to food through hands on sessions, professional development, training and mentoring.
The project’s core work is in the Nursery Schools, Early Years settings, Schools and Children’s Centres working with young children, aged 2-4, and their families. This key stage of a child’s development is when young children develop tastes and confidence with food. The Children’s Kitchen encourages early years settings to embed food and growing into their core activities, focusing on fresh produce instead of traditional cake making, and building the confidence and skills of practitioners so that they can run the project themselves long term.
The project establishes regular Food Sessions where children can explore fresh produce which is either Fareshare Southwest surplus or home grown. The Children’s Kitchen works alongside the FOOD Clubs that are run close to the settings using the same fresh produce that members receive and delivering cookery demonstrations, hands-on workshops and recipes in the clubs with families. Food Sessions do not follow recipes or expect predictable outcomes; they involve play, enquiry, experimentation, and child led learning. The children explore and taste the fresh ingredients that their parents may be bringing home from FOOD Club, so they already have experience of a new ingredient before it is served to them in a meal.
The project also focuses on growing fresh produce onsite and helps the settings to create a Growing Space with Incredible Edible Bristol, where children can plant seeds, pick produce and learn about nature and where food comes from. This encourages outdoor learning and builds a child’s connection to the natural world at a young age.
The project now works in other areas of the country with a pilot scheme in Nottinghamshire.
In 2022 the project was awarded the Nursery World Award for Health and Wellbeing.
In 2023 The Children’s Kitchen were named the Department for Education Regional HAF Champions for the South West.