Multi-Award-Winning Author and Early Years Nutrition Consultant Launches The Good Food Academy
Louise Mercieca, founder of The Health Kick, a multi-award winning business dedicated to helping early years professionals, those working in the education sector and parents learn more about how food and health are linked and their effects on childhood development, has co-launched a Social Enterprise – The Good Food Academy.
Speaking of the launch Louise said, “I’ve been on this food and health journey now for 11 plus year and during that time the general health situation has not got any better – in fact it’s got a whole lot worse. The health and wealth divide has escalated and current health predictions look incredibly bleak especially for our children who are now predicted to have a lower life expectancy than the generation before them; that’s us! I can’t stand by and let that happen so, as well as the other work I’m doing in this area, I’ve teamed up with my friend and fellow amazing Early Years Consultant, Lucy Lewin, to co-launch The Good Food Academy.
“Our mission at The Good Food Academy is nothing more and nothing less than to reverse the horrific prediction on life expectancy for this generation of children. The current situation for many children and families in the UK today is one of food poverty and associated ill-health. We know that the need for food banks has increased by 123% in the last five years and this certainly looks set to continue rising, but food banks cannot be the answer to this problem alone.
“Whilst it’s desperately sad and frustrating for us to think of people, particularly children, going hungry there are much wider health, wealth and social implications at stake. Within the UK today we have very real poverty and this brings with it health inequalities. Income is associated with health. Those in the bottom 40% of income distribution are twice as likely to report poor health than their counterparts in the top 20% of income distribution. Poverty, and in particular persistent poverty, is associated with the very worst health outcomes. That doesn’t bode well for the 4.3 million* children living in poverty in the UK today.
“We believe that health is about much more than an individuals’ personal health. It’s a reflection of society and, indeed, of the country itself. With this in mind we aim, with the help of our Ambassadors, to take The Good Food Academy out to communities, not just within the early years sector, but to community food groups and into businesses as food really does impact on every element of our lives.”
The Good Food Academy has already welcomed its first Ambassador – Lee Connelly, The Skinny Jean Gardener, former Blue Peter Gardener (2015-2018), children’s and family gardening presenter, CBBC and BBC Teach presenter and Founder of Schools Gardening Success. Speaking about The Good Food Academy Lee said, “Over the past 10 years of teaching children how to grow their own I’ve seen the importance of what food means and the role it plays in their lives. The Good Food Academy is bringing further education to communities on this important subject and will make a massive difference in the future of food, health and education. I’m extremely proud to be involved and wish Louise and Lucy all the success in the world.”
The Good Food Academy is currently working on launching projects to support and increase Chatty Café schemes ensuring everyone has a safe, warm place to go and get some nutritious food. Says Louise, “Healthy food shouldn’t only be for those who can pay for it so through partnerships and clever food relationships we are aiming to try and offer as much food for free or very heavily subsidised as possible. We also have a project planned to bring together the youngest members of the community with the oldest via an ‘edible garden project’ based in the Lutterworth area. This exciting project will encourage children to understand seasonal food, nutrition and cooking. It will also show them the importance of community by enabling youth groups to transform their edible garden produce using clever kitchen equipment into jars of jams, chutneys and pickles that they can then gift to the oldest members of the community. Our plan is for this project to be a ‘forever project’ supported by the changing members of the youth groups involved.”
The Good Food Academy also has big plans for encouraging sport take up and access to coaching and activities for all children regardless of income and background. Through a network of contacts in the sports and coaching world The Good Food Academy intend to put together projects offering free access to coaching together with excellent nutritious food ensuring that participants are educated on the importance of good food to any sporting activity. Finally The Good Food Academy are working on producing a series of information leaflets based on the ‘nutritional stages of my education journey’ which will clearly show the very real link that food (type of and lack of) has on a child’s time, enjoyment and success at school. Added Louise, “We are also looking at ways we can positively impact the early years sector as both Lucy and I have a lot of experience in this sector. We feel passionately that we need to change the health predictions laid out for this generation and are busy putting plans together as to how we can impact this important group.”
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