Tesco vowed today to tackle what it claimed was a worrying tide of ignorance among children over health, obesity and the origins of food.
It has launched the Tesco Eat Happy Project, which it said would involve a series of major initiatives to better educate youngsters, starting with a programme to give every primary school in the UK a chance to learn more about food and where it comes from.
Farm to Fork, which is backed by supporters including Diabetes UK, the Children’s Food Trust and the NFU, and launches next month, will see up to one million children go on educational trails in factories, farms and supermarkets.
Tesco said it would invest £15m in rolling out the programme this year and added that it was training more than 700 staff to help run tours in local communities, using material produced with teachers and linked to the national curriculum.
It comes as a report Tesco commissioned from the Future Foundation today shows that while 90% of 7-14 year olds claim they know which foods are good for them, more than half (52%) believe that potatoes can form one of their five-a-day and 16% think carrot cake or tomato ketchup count.
“We are now facing an overwhelming body of evidence which points clearly to the long-term health and social costs of our relationship with food,” said Tesco UK managing director Chris Bush.
“These examples show that there is a gap, not just in the knowledge our children carry with them but in the fundamental relationship they have with food. This isn’t an educational challenge to overcome, it is a social one in which education has a part.”