Hi, I’m Jas, an MSc Dietetic student from Birmingham City University. I’ve been at the School of Artisan working with the Best Food Forward Project to develop new evidence-based resources.
These are to be used alongside The Food Cards for high in fats, salt and sugar (HSFF) foods. The Food Cards teach young people about food recognition, healthy eating and creating balanced meals. Since HSFF foods comprise almost half of the intake consumed by secondary school children, building awareness of them is so important!
As well as this, I’ve been spreading awareness about the project on social media because, whilst Best Food Forward is based in Nottinghamshire, so many different areas would benefit from this project. Even if it is too far to travel, engaging with their cooking videos, Instagram posts and recipes would be very beneficial to teachers, students and the general public.
Most dietetics students will only ever get experience in clinical, hospital-based placements. Whilst the acute setting is a fantastic experience, it doesn’t open our eyes to all of the alternative opportunities awaiting us. Rather than focusing on treatment, we can inform and deliver prevention strategies through education sessions, social media posts and practical cooking sessions. I am very lucky that the university sees the importance of alternative dietetics experience, and I will definitely consider pursuing a career in it, alongside a clinical career, once I graduate.
Also, being from Birmingham City, it’s not very often we see fresh fruit and vegetables in their natural state, growing in the ground. Instead, it’s pre-packaged in supermarkets or loose in farmers markets’ crates. Seeing vegetables growing and maturing in their natural state was so wholesome, as I probably haven’t seen this in over 15 years, when I last visited a farm with primary school! The School of Artisan and Best Food Forward use this veg straight from the garden, wash it and cook it. It’s as local and as environmentally friendly as it gets.
The Best Food Forward Project is making a giant impact in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. It’s a small team of six, including a registered dietitian, a qualified food teacher, a marketing volunteer, two mapping researchers and another admin volunteer. Worksop is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, so schools, GPs, students and parents are really benefitting from having access to this project, especially during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Best Food Forward has opened my eyes to prevention strategies as opposed to many of the treatment strategies we learn about during clinical placements, lectures and seminars. More can be done to support the public before they even need to access healthcare. I believe this project, with further funding, can grow to incredible heights. Educating and inspiring our young people, and those who look after our population, to make informed food choices, should improve intake, healthy relationships with food and practical food skills. This will enable them to make fresh, homemade balanced meals.