Bigger and Better School Fruit and Veg
Bigger and Better School Fruit and Veg
THE #RaiseASmile CAMPAIGN AIMS TO:
- END DRIED FRUIT SNACKS IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
- EXPAND THE SCHOOL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SCHEME (SFVS) TO OLDER CHILDREN
- UTILISE MORE BRITISH PRODUCE
You might not know that a quarter of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay. Tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admissions in the 6-10 year old age group, costing the NHS over £30 million a year. On average, 3 school days a year are missed due to dental appointments.
DRIED FRUIT IS NOT A SAFE SNACK AND CAN CAUSE TOOTH DECAY - Evidence-based dental advice A quick guide to a healthy mouth in children-GOV.UK recommends that dried fruit should be kept to mealtimes to reduce the risk.
SFVS IS ONLY OFFERED TO 4-6 YEAR OLDS. Older primary school pupils would benefit nutritionally from expansion.
CURRENTLY THE SFVS IS ONLY USING 30-40% BRITISH PRODUCE. By swapping raisins and sultanas for fresh produce, and expanding to more children, it will increase requirements and more opportunity for British farmers.
LONG TERM MISSION expansion will help to protect the most vulnerable, be more tooth-friendly, support British farmers and better environmentally.
This petition is calling on ministers to make these positive changes. Spread the word. Be part of the change.
Have you posted your challenge video yet?
Alongside this petition, there is a social media video challenge to share your smile in an uplifting manner.
1. Make & upload a video “Raising A Smile” (from frown/neutral face to beaming) & challenge a friend to do the same
2. sign this petition
#RaiseASmile video challenge
A healthy happy smile needs a nutritious balanced diet. All of our children deserve this. Sign the petition now to give our kids a healthy, happy future to smile about.
THE BACK STORY:
I'm a mum and a dental nurse. I was concerned that my young children were being given dried fruit as snacks at primary school. Evidence-based dental advice (Delivering Better Oral Health toolkit) recommends that dried fruit should be kept to mealtimes to reduce the risk of tooth decay. I was told it was only six times a year and not to worry. When my eldest moved up to Key Stage 2 (KS2) I realised that the school snack policy was allowing older pupils to bring in dried fruit as a snack every day of the year.
A quarter of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay. Tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admissions in the 6-10 year old age group, costing the NHS over £30 million a year. On average, 3 school days a year are missed due to dental appointments.
I contacted the head teacher, who felt unable to change the policy for KS1 pupils, as it would be hypocritical when giving out the dried fruit through the government-funded School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). The school could not afford to buy fresh fruit or vegetables for all Key Stage 1 (KS1) pupils on those six days a year.
I contacted my MP who wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). By the time I got a reply COVID-19 had hit; Matt Hancock was a bit busy, but Jo Churchill kindly gave a response. Basically, concluding that even though this is not in line with broader Government & Public Health England advice - which recommends that dried fruit should be consumed with a meal to reduce risk of tooth decay - the policy could not be changed for logistical reasons (delivery).
As a direct result, a newsletter to schools was issued by SFVS including details about the cariogenic risk of dried fruit snacks, but I don't think that it reached the parents (in a nationwide survey of SFVS parents, out of 30 respondents, only one had received this information from school).
My MP suggested I try and get more dental associations on board. To date, I have gained support from the British Dental Association, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, British Association of Dental Nurses, British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists, British Association of Dental Therapists and the national charity Oral Health Foundation who run National Smile Month. #SmileMonth
If this can't be changed from the top down, let's try from the ground up. With your help we can make a difference.
So I came up with a solution to demonstrate to DHSC that it was possible. Raisin swap in one primary school, funded by my employers Devonshire House Dental Practice, Cambridge. 180 KS1 pupils are now getting tooth-friendly fresh vegetables instead of raisins and sultanas on those six days of the year. A bonus environmental effect of this change is that there is less plastic packaging and none blowing around the playground.
The whole school snack policy has also been changed to prevent dried fruit being eaten as a break time snack. Pupils were informed and an email was sent out to parents explaining the change in policy and reasoning. The older KS2 children are now only eating fresh fruit and vegetable snacks in the school grounds. This is great news for 369 pupils but there is more to be done. Many children take chocolate, cereal bars and dried fruit to school for snacks (my online survey recorded 50% of parents who supply snacks to KS2 kids included these).
Things obviously slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, but since then I gained a place on an Oral Health Promotion Project course run by Smile Revolution. It was intensive but brilliant. It shone a light on best practice examples of oral health promotion and I realised that I have the potential to make an even greater impact. The school is now receiving regular Oral Health Education Takeaway, in a fun format including activity sheets and online videos, and I am trying to ensure that all pupils have access to local dental care. I am planning to replicate this link between other dental practices and schools.
A healthy happy smile needs a nutritious balanced diet.
All of our children deserve this. More than 4 in 5 children are not eating 5 a day.
SFVS are delivering to 4-6 year olds but what about their older siblings?
Bigger and Better
Then last year, after Marcus Rashford's brilliant #endchildfoodpoverty campaign, I saw in the press that a number of food and children's charities were calling to get the SFVS expanded for all primary school children, not just the younger ones. I whole-heartedly support this. No-one wants to think about a child being hungry, whatever their age.
As well as making the scheme bigger it has also been suggested that it could be improved in a number of ways at the same time.
As well as supplying fresh produce every day by withdrawing dried fruits from the scheme to make it more tooth-friendly, the schools own snack policy could be looked at & other health benefits could result from changes.
The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is a precarious system because it is not written in law. This means like in Lockdown last year it can be cancelled at any time. Having the most detrimental effect on the poorest, widening inequalities. Delivering through schools is the best way to ensure that these children have access to healthy eating.
British farmers also struggle with such uncertainty, especially when offering better quality and higher environmental standards than some foreign suppliers. There is an opportunity for the government to specify a higher percentage of produce is British.
If you haven't done so already, Sign the petition now!
Ask the government to make SFVS bigger and better.
Bigger=expand to all primary school children
Better=support British farmers with more seasonal produce
Better =fresh reduces the risk of tooth decay
Throughout National Smile Month (17th May-17th June 2021) there is a social media video challenge to help Raise Awareness about the SFVS and how a healthy diet is important for a healthy smile.
#RaiseASmile video challenge
Search for #RaiseASmile and have fun watching and making videos.